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Tufts OpenCourseware
Authors: Kathleen Merrigan, Ph.D., William Lockeretz, Ph.D.


  • Sierra Club, The RapSheet on Animal Factories, August 2002.
  • ERS, “Manure Management for Water Quality: Costs to Animal Operations of Applying Manure Nutrients to Land, ” executive summary, June 2003.
  • Austen, Ian, The Flexible Farmer Lets the Robot Do the Milking, The New York Times, 1/23/03.
  • Introduction to Animal Biotechnology: Science-Based Concerns, National Research Council, 2002.
  • Check-off programs material

Key Questions

Rapsheet on Animal Factories

  • What are the reasons for laws and sentiments against involvement of corporations in US agriculture? What is the general trend at present with reference to these laws?
  • What are the different kinds of anti-corporate laws relating to their involvement in agriculture?
  • What are the arguments for the involvement of corporations in agriculture?

Manure Management for Water Quality: Costs to Animal Feeding Operations of Applying Manure Nutrients to Land

  • Why has the EPA focused on regulating manure management specifically of the CAFOs?
  • What factors influence manure management practices of CAFOs?
  • How does land availability for manure spreading affect animal production, industry profitability and consumer price?
  • Why is it more costly for a CAFO to meet the requirements of phosphorous based standards for manure management?
  • How do various factors related to geography affect the costs of manure management? How could regulation of CAFOs for manure management affect crop producers, even though the same laws do not apply to them?
  • Are animal feeding operations other than CAFOs regulated for manure management?

Animal Biotechnology

  • What are the major concerns pertaining to animal biotechnology?
  • What are the potential benefits and risks of animal biotechnological applications?

An Overview of the Animal Industries

  • What is the share of animal production industry in the overall agricultural production in the US?
  • What are some of the reasons for the very high productivity of the US animal operations?
  • What factors would you consider if you were to evaluate the benefits of such highly productive animal operations?

Structure of Global Markets for Meat

  • What are the key inputs for the meat industry?
  • What are the dominant factors that affect meat production and trade?
  • Considering the major inputs of feed availability and costs, labor and capital, how does livestock production in developed countries compare with that of developing countries?

Mad Cow Disease and US Beef Trade

  • How have different countries reacted on discovering BSE in the cattle reared in their own as well as other countries?
  • Despite being under similar conditions after discovering BSE, why was the beef industry of the US less adversely affected when compared to that of Canada?
  • Why did the USDA prevent Creekstone farms from testing their cattle for BSE?