Pigs confined in pens often cannot even turn around. (Photo: Pat Morris/Ardea.com.)

The problem with CAFOs, or Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, begins with that first word, concentrated. Animals are confined in such tight quarters, in some cases, they can’t even move. They can’t socialize, wallow, root, reproduce or trot around the way domesticated animals did for thousands of years. This is a pound of flesh extracted under the coldest conditions.

Matthew Scully, a former speechwriter for President George Bush, writes in the chapter “Fear Factories — The Case for Compassionate Conservatism — for Animals” that he once viewed factory farming as one of the “lesser problems” facing humanity, but he came to view “the abuses of industrial farming as a serious moral problem, a truly rotten business for good reason passed over in polite conversation.”

Scully refers to the cruel treatment of animals in our industrial livestock system as an “intrinsic evil” and derides the “I don’t want to know attitude” of those who refuse to discuss this moral question. He shows how the big food companies like Smithfield Foods, ConAgra and Tyson Foods help the public avoid this moral bump by cultivating a countried image, using brands like “Murphy Family Farms, Happy Land Farms, Sunnyland Farms – to convince us and no doubt themselves, too, that they are engaged in something essential, wholesome and honorable.”