While the global human situation has improved, things have become worse for farmed animals. Factory farms confine 11 times more vertebrate animals than they did 50 years ago, about 110 billion at any time. If FAO projections come true, factory farms will confine another 90 billion animals by 2050, or 20 for every human on earth. Factory farms confine these animals to crowded cages and barren pens, cut off their beaks, tails, and genitals without pain relief, and slaughter them with little attention to their wellbeing. The fishing industry alone kills 3-8 billion animals every day, most by slow suffocation, crushing, or live disemboweling. If you value a year of an individual animal’s suffering at even one 100th of the human equivalent, the growth in factory farming may outweigh all progress in alleviating human suffering this century. Yet almost no resources are devoted to this problem. Donors gave five times more money to Harvard University last year than to all advocacy for the world’s farm animals. Of the 3% of US philanthropy that goes to helping animals, only about one hundredth (or 0.03% of total giving) goes toward farm animals. By my estimate, more advocacy has focused on the wellbeing of one captive orca, Tilikum, than on the wellbeing of all the world’s billions of captive farmed fish. And even the meager advocacy focused on farm animals has a mixed track record. US activists for years focused mostly on convincing people to go vegetarian or vegan, yet only about 1% of Americans have, and that number has barely budged in two decades. Other activists have focused on opposing new factory farms or promoting small family farms, yet the former have continued to grow at the expense of the latter. Some groups have even devoted more resources to attacking other animal advocates than attacking factory farming. Farmed animal advocacy groups from around the world and their expenditures on farmed animal advocacy are provided as well as suggestions for more effective advocacy.
Bollard, L., (2018). How Can You Do The Most Good for Animals? Farm Animal Welfare Newsletter, 21 Dec. https://www.openphilanthropy.org/farm-animal-welfare-newsletter-archive. Open Philanthropy, San Francisco, USA