Agricultural practices have passed though many stages of development. It has evolved from primitive practices such as hunting and gathering to industrial farming, mechanization of agriculture and food manufacturing. In addition, this is what formed a base for the industrialized agriculture creating an agro-commodity production system.
Industrialized agriculture is a kind of modern farming that entails production of poultry, fish, livestock and crops. The production makes use of agricultural machines and different farming methods and genetic technology.
Finally, the corporations that are involved in the process of food production are responsible for the creation of new markets for consumption and the global trade of agricultural products (Drury et al. 14). Most of the goods that are available worldwide are mostly produced using industrial methods of agriculture.
Industrialized agriculture has replaced old agriculture practices such as shift cultivation, pastoralism and subsistence farming that used low quality and primitive technology.
Before the changes in the agriculture sector, many people practiced shift cultivation. This is a type of farming whereby the land under cultivation is periodically changed so that the fields that were earlier used for cultivation are left fallow. Due to the current industrialized agriculture, people are longer using shift cultivation because they have to make use of all the available land in order to maximize their profits.
Before the invention of industrialized agriculture, pastoralism was also practiced. This is a type of farming in which people earn their living by tending herds of domesticated herbivore animals such as cows, goats, sheep, horses, camels, chicken, turkeys among others. With the changes in the agricultural sector, pastoralism is rarely practiced (Knox 2).
Subsistence agriculture on the other hand is a form of farming where almost all of the produce is used for domestic purposed by the farmer. Such farmers therefore do not have surplus for sale. This type of farming was practices before the industrialized agriculture was introduced.
This has now changed with agricultural production being more specialized and commercialized. Farming has now developed and farmers produce sizable surplus of crops that they can trade for goods or they can sell to earn money (Knox 3).
Some of the benefits of industrialized agriculture include; cheap food; availability of labor from agricultural activities for employment in other sectors; large, profitable chemical and agricultural industries; and increased export markets. Most importantly, industrialized agriculture has brought an end to the seasonal availability of foodstuff. Through this process, any type of food can be produced all year round
Due to the use of modern farming, agriculture in American has witnessed an increase in production. This was achieved by the use of fertilizers, pesticides, improved varieties of plants and machinery. The increase in production of the staple crops has led to reduction in food prices.
Food has become more affordable to the consumers since the cost of production has been reduced by a significant amount. This land can be utilized to produce food with the use of the latest technology hence boost the process of food production. As a result, larger proportions of the population can be fed with the utilization of the same land resource.
The production of animal products with the use of intensive livestock agriculture, farming gives a chance to get the methane gases that would contribute to global warming. These gases are essential since they can be used as a source of alternative energy. This is because they can be used to generate heat and electricity. This in turn reduced the dependence on fossil fuel.
There is availability of labor because of the industrial agriculture mechanization is in place and this means that smaller workforce will be required for the production as compared to ancient times when people were not using machines for cultivation.
Through the industrialized agricultural system, large commercial farms have their profits from farm sales. Most of the corporate people have the largest operations in agricultural production. Krebs (1992) states that rich people like Tyson, ConAgra, and Cargill have the biggest operations that deal with poultry and beef.
Industrialized agriculture helps in export markets. It has been noted that Agricultural products make up 10 percent of all exported US products. The rise in global food trade that is accelerated by the International Trade Agreements has seen an increase and imports of food from outside the United States has gone high (Drury et al. 17).
Although the production achievements given to industrial agriculture are notable, they have negative effects to the environment, the economy and our social structures. Agriculture affects the environment in many ways.
There is high usage of water, energy and chemicals that have unfavorable effects to the inhabitants. Herbicides and pesticides usually accumulate in water surfaces and in the ground that lead to pollution (Leo et al. 28).
The chemical fertilizers encourage growth of microorganism that can cause diseases. The wastes from poultry and livestock usually send an awful odor to the environment.
The rapid use of the pesticides makes the pests resistant and the chemicals that will be used will not be effective. Pesticides also kill some of the useful insects as well as the harmful ones. Use of pesticides has many negative health problems to the people who apply them and to the people who live near the farms.
There is also an increase in ozone pollution though methane that is a byproduct of the animals. Industrialized agriculture encourages global warming because of the heavy usage of the fossil fuels. It also destroys and limits the natural habitats of wild animals.
The farming methods in industrialized agriculture also contributed to the denudation of vegetation and weakening of the soil (Knox 6).This reduces the viability and vigour of the soil as a result of being exposed to heavy machinery by farmers. These machines also destroy the microorganisms that are present in the soil.
Industrialized agriculture leads to high economic costs. For production to be effective, large amounts of energy have to be used. Fuel has to be used to run the huge machines. Transport is also high especially in the perishable products like animal and horticultural products.
Some of the products have to be transported by air around the world that is relatively expensive (Segre et al. 8). The cost of production is generally high with the purchase of machines, use of chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.
Some of the chemicals used have negative effects on the human health. Many pesticides contain a substance that affects the endocrine system that in turn affects the reproduction system and it can be expensive to treat. There is also damage to fisheries form the oxygen depleting organisms which come from the fertilizers.
Animal wastes pollute the water and this leads to increased heath problems to the workers. The common use of growth hormones in animals has led to an increase in humans to be resistant to antibiotics. Most of the pathogens are usually associated with the animal products.
Industrialized agriculture has effects on animals. This is because of the use of artificial methods to maintain the health of the animals such as use of vitamin supplements and growth hormones. Animals grow rapidly due to the artificial hormones. Chickens are given supplements to encourage weight gain.
Animals like cows, pigs, goats, turkeys and chicken are confined indoors and are usually crowded in a small area so that production can be met through the lowest cost. These products are available to the consumers at lower costs but the effects of the genetically modified products are great to them.
Because the products have a lot of fat and proteins it has so many chronic diseases such as breast cancer, prostrate cancer and heart diseases. Most of the people are consuming these products and it harms both the environment and the public health.
In industrialized agriculture, there are contemporary agro-commodity systems that are made in such a way that the chain of agribusiness starts when the farmers start any form of agriculture, it will start from the time they begin the activity and it ends at the retail outlets.
If crops are grown, agribusiness starts at the farm with all the agricultural practices until the produce is taken to the retail outlets. If it is an animal production, it begins when the animals are young until they are supplied to the retail outlets (Leo et al. 20).The production passes the chain of agribusiness for it to be supplied to the consumers.
The industrialization of agriculture has done a lot of coordination of the agricultural sector with other sectors of the economy (Christina 26). Globalization of agriculture in terms of trade has been influenced by the institutions and treaties such as the Food and Agriculture Organization, North American Free Trade Agreement, The World Trade Organization and the European Union.
They give rules to farmers, provide the rights of corporations and protect them from the world competition. Financial institutions such as banks and credit companies are used to fund the inputs that are very expensive (John 6).
The health of human beings and the environment could be made better if the farms can make transitions to sustainable systems of production which can involve closer look at the connection of the producer and the consumer. There should b direct marketing of the products to the local consumers. There should b shorter channels right from the farmer to the consumers (Leo et al. 34).
Industrialized agriculture has led to high production that enables people to produce goods in high quantities due to mechanization, chemical farming and food manufacturing.
Even though the goods are cheap and readily available to the consumers, there are so many disadvantages because the products are genetically engineered and they have negative effects to the health and the chemicals that are used affect the environment negatively because most of the products are contaminated.
Christina, Simon. “Agri-food Commodity Chains and Globalizing Networks.” Journal of Agriculture, 1.4 (2000): 50-53. Print.
Drury, Red, Amos, Vince and Tweeten, Trends. Farm Structure into the 21st Century. New York: Sage, 2008. Print.
John, Evans. The Globalization of Agriculture: Implication for Sustainability of Small Horticultural Farms. Missouri: University of Missouri, 2000. Print.
Knox, Peter. Human Geography: Agriculture and Food Production. Prenshall. August 2006. Web.
Krebs, Anton. The Corporate Reapers. Boston: Essential Books, 1992.
Leo, Humphrey D., Robert, Shane and Polly, Winfred. Environmental Health Perspectives. How Sustainable Agriculture Can Address the Environmental and Human Health Harms of Industrial Agriculture. Organic Consumers. May 2002. https://www.organicconsumers.org/ 10th November 2011. Web.
Segre, Alvan D., Lunati, Mosses M. and Brandini, Chase. Global Horticultural Impact. Rome: Metro Inc., 1998. Print.