Unhealthy diets driven by industrial livestock systems lead to malnutrition, obesity and many chronic illnesses. Excessive meat consumption also contributes to antimicrobial resistance and zoonotic pathogens. Working on a farm is dangerous and can be deadly. Farmers and their families must be covered in the event of a tragedy.
Livestock farming is a crucial industry contributing to poverty reduction, food security and agricultural development. It provides draught power, income generation and diversification, soil nutrients, animal health and disease prevention, and financial capital. Demand for livestock-derived foods is increasing rapidly as population growth, increased consumer purchasing power and urbanization drive higher meat consumption. This is putting a strain on local production, which has led to high meat imports, high food prices, and loss of foreign exchange. This trend drives the livestock insurance market as farmers seek to minimize financial losses from diseases, adverse weather conditions, and theft. Many established livestock mortality insurance companies offer specialized products that address these unique needs. Additionally, government initiatives promoting livestock insurance contribute to the market’s growth.
Cruel factory farming induces immense stress in animals, leaving them prone to bacteria and parasites that can spread to people who consume the meat. This is the main pathway through which industrial livestock systems negatively impact human health. Farming animals also create particulate matter and aerosols, a group of harmful substances consisting of dried manure, bedding materials, animal dander, and organic dust. These particles irritate the respiratory tract and cause lung diseases such as organic dust toxic syndrome, chronic bronchitis, and declines in lung function. Three-quarters of the world’s antibiotics are used in farmed animals to prevent them from getting sick, promote fast growth, and treat disease – driving the emergence of superbugs that leave us less able to fight infection. This is one of the five pathways through which food systems negatively affect our health.
Natural disasters can cost livestock farmers billions of dollars yearly in lost crop and livestock production. These include floods, drought, storms, plant pests and animal diseases, chemical spills, toxic algal blooms, and more.
Climate change threatens current livestock systems at all stages of the supply chain. Major trends include increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide, tropospheric ozone, and other greenhouse gases; changes in mean climate variables and weather variability; sea level rise; and heightened risk and frequency of extreme events such as hurricanes. Preparing for floods, storms, and other natural disasters is essential to maintaining a healthy, productive farm. For example, removing anything that can cut, scrape or gouge livestock during flooding can protect them from injury. Ensuring animals can access food and water during a disaster is important.
Injuries caused by animals can happen when livestock is transported, herded or handled. Animals can also escape from farms and get in the way of vehicles or other people. Bites from dogs and pigs can cause serious injury or infection. The bacteria that live in the mouths of these animals can enter the bloodstream and cause severe conditions. Other injuries occur when working with larger animals. Research shows 65% of all farm injuries are related to large animals. These can be from herding or moving them, tagging, vaccinations and other tasks.
A farm can have a lot of equipment that is potentially dangerous to operate. This includes tractors, quad bikes and side-by-side. These vehicles can cause serious injuries if used incorrectly or have mechanical issues. They can also hurt people caught between them and hard surfaces, such as buildings or trees. Almost half of all accidents involving farmers are related to livestock. The research found that cattle were the most common type of animal to cause injury. They can kick, bite, gore and trample people. They can also trap limbs between them and other animals or structures, peck, scratch and ram. Burns are another risk on a farm. Flammable objects like gasoline in machinery and gases from manure or grain storage can cause fires. This can lead to painful and life-altering burns.