Livestock and poultry factories are encased in thousands of sprawling, low-slung, metal buildings that now litter much of our rural landscapes.

Rarely seen by consumers, the prison-like facilities are called concentrated animal feeding operations. They’re as far from pastoral as that name suggest.

A factory farm has many thousands of chickens, cows, hogs, turkeys and/or other animals jammed together in tiny crates that permit little movement beyond eating and defecating.

Egg-producing operations were found to have millions of chickens living six to a cage. The cages were no bigger than an open newspaper, giving each a space of roughly 8 inches. For life.

That’s not a farm. It’s an animal concentration camp.

About 97% percent of the eggs we buy come from factory farms. Even less known is the nasty fact that those cages aren’t just crammed with hens. They’re often teeming with salmonella and other pathogens.

Big agriculture rationalizes its assembly-line treatment of animals on the grounds that it yields cheap eggs and meat. But that low price is only achieved by passing onto consumers the health issues that our reliance on the factory farm can create.

The industry is trying to make it a crime to take pictures or make videos of factory farms.

Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Darlene Tamanini

Columbia