Animal factories are a leading contributor to climate change. CAFOs emit large quantities of climate pollutants through on-site manure storage problems and the conversion of native forests to intensive livestock or feed cropping systems. They also rely upon fossil fuel-intensive resources, exacerbating climate change.

Food animal production is responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gas production and over 7 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.


Manure storage from animal factories results in excess methane production, exacerbating climate change. Animal factories are large sources of both methane and nitrous oxide, with 37 percent of methane emissions coming from grain-fed animals.

Deforestation is a dangerous side effect of clearing land for large-scale industrial animal factories and the cropland required to grow enough animal feed. Industrial animal production has led to extreme deforestation, and reduction in wooded areas can emit up to 2.4 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Intensive production of feed groups to sustain animal factories consumes large amounts of fossil fuels and depletes soils. Grain-based feeds used by animal factory operators rely on intensive production of soy and grains like corn. Livestock feeds grown with synthetic fertilizers contribute 65 percent of nitrous oxide and 30 million tons of ammonia annually.

The ratio of fossil fuel energy inputs per unit of food energy produced for industrial meat products is 35:1.


Monocultures of corn and soybeans also reduce soil fertility and hinder soil’s ability to sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Soil carbon sequestration is an important tool for combatting climate change. Carbon sequestration could capture 5-15 percent of the yearly global fossil-fuel emissions.

Reducing overall consumption of meat and poultry proteins, sourcing certified humane, organic, and/or pasture-raised meats, and increasing portions of plant-based proteins in your diet can play a critical role in stopping and reversing the effects of climate change.

  • Plant-based whole proteins are more energy efficient and associated with less greenhouse gas emissions than animal-based proteins. Industrial beef systems produce 250 times more greenhouse gas emissions than legumes.
  • As the amount of protein increases in a plant-based product, the amount of greenhouse gases emitted decreases. For animal-based products, it is the opposite.
  • Reduced meat consumption can lead to increased land available for reforestation or organic and other climate-friendly crop production practices that foster soil fertility and protect its capacity to sequester carbon.
  • Organic producers are required by law to implement livestock management practices that protect natural resources, mitigating climate change through fostering healthy, fertile soils.
  • Manure input on organic farms is calculated based on capacity of the site, preventing excessive nitrous oxide emissions from massive amounts of animal waste.
  • Animals raised in well-managed systems on land can enhance nutrient cycling through strong grazing practices.