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PROJECT COUNTERGLOW: Animal Rights Activists Uncover the Location of Thousands of U.S. Factory Farms

Project Counterglow's interactive map reveals the locations of more than 27,500 farms and animal agriculture facilities, many of which do not appear in public records.

ALLEEN BROWN: Animal rights activists published an interactive map on Sunday revealing the locations of more than 27,500 farms and animal agriculture facilities, including 5,812 identified using satellite imagery, many of which do not appear in public records. Users will be able to pin new locations to the map, known as Project Counterglow, and attach photos and videos documenting animal cruelty and health violations. The animal agriculture industry has spent decades fighting to avoid the disclosure of information about facilities where animals are raised for food.

The map is meant to offer a rare bird’s-eye view of the scale of the industry, while also providing a research tool for activist investigators. Kecia Doolittle, the leader of the team that created the map, is an animal rights activist who has participated in a number of farm investigations herself. Footage uncovered by Doolittle and others over the years has revealed conditions such as overcrowding; wounded, sick, and dead animals left in pens with the living; painful procedures like tail removal and castration without anesthesia; and physical abuse by farmers, at times resulting in boycotts or criminal charges…

If a similar project in Australia is any indication, backlash against the map’s creators could be significant. Project Counterglow began as a partnership with the organization Aussie Farms, whose Farm Transparency Map launched last year to the outrage of the farming industry. Its release led to the passage of federal legislation in Australia that criminalized the use of a website or social media to incite trespass on a farm…

The animal agriculture industry has become highly consolidated over the last 50 years. Around 40 percent of livestock today are raised in concentrated animal feeding operations, known as CAFOs, that house at least 1,000 beef cattle, 2,500 pigs weighing 55 pounds or more, or 125,000 chickens. Yet pressure from industry assured that the regulatory system would not keep up with the changes. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 60 percent of CAFOs hold no environmental permits — operators are only required to obtain a clean water permit when they admit to discharging waste into federally regulated waters. SOURCE…

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