I was recently asked to identify what I perceive as the five greatest issues facing sustainable animal production for my Diversified Animal Production class, and I thought I’d share it here too! Here’s my list:

1. Availability of cheap, unethically produced substitute products: It’s hard for me to wrap my head around, but there are people out there (many of them, I suspect) who will still choose the cheapest option even if they know that it’s bad for the evironment, bad for the animals, bad for workers, etc. The fact that these products are readily available in virtually every grocery store in the U.S. doesn’t help.

2. A misinformed public: there are some well meaning people out there who care about animal welfare and sustainability, but they get their facts from the wrong sources, and end up working against sustainable animal production rather than for it.

3. Government programs and marketing infrastructure: both were designed to reward agribusinesses that produce a great volume, with little regard to sustainability or other important considerations.

4. Economic viability: sustainable operations tend to require more land and more labor than their “more efficient” counterparts. This can make it difficult for start-ups to reach profitability.

5. Lack of Scalability: what works well for one sustainable livestock operation won’t necessarily work for another, and that’s ok! However, because there is no franchise model that can be duplicated across the country, increasing the supply of sustainably sourced animal products may be challenging.

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