Table of Contents
Geography Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 385893, 12 pages
Research Article

Distribution of Industrial Farms in the United States and Socioeconomic, Health, and Environmental Characteristics of Counties

1School of Planning, Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, 200 University Avenue West, Waterloo, ON, Canada N2L 3G1
2Geographic Information Science for Development and Environment (GISDE), Department of International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE), Clark University, Worcester, MA 01610, USA

Received 28 February 2013; Revised 3 July 2013; Accepted 15 July 2013

Academic Editor: Siyue Li

Copyright © 2013 S. M. Rafael Harun and Yelena Ogneva-Himmelberger. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The method of producing food animals has changed in the United States over the past century, moving from traditional burns to enclosed structures resembling industrial buildings, where animals are raised in high stocking density (commonly known as “Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations,” CAFOs). The objective to maximize profit has resulted in poor farm management; raised issues of environmental pollution, public health, animal rights, and environmental justice, and had socio-economic impacts. Studies concerning the issues are limited to specific regions and types of CAFOs. In addition, studies on the spatial distribution and temporal changes of CAFO at a country scale are lacking. This study bridges some of the gaps by analyzing the spatial distribution of industrial farms in the United States in 2002 and 2007 and their relationship with vulnerable population and exploring the relationships among the concentrations of farms, socio-economic, health, and environmental characteristics of the counties. A range of spatial statistics tools were applied in this study. The study revealed variations in spatial distribution depending on the type of the CAFOs. The issue of environmental justice was found prevalent depending on the types of industrial farms. Each type of industrial farm was found to interact uniquely with the selected demographic, health, and environmental parameters.