Comment 26663

By Ted Mitchell (registered) | Posted September 21, 2008 at 13:37:16

Another important issue is size, of both farming operations and processing plants. Given that such outbreaks can have widespread consequences, it makes sense to limit the extent of them by limiting size. This can benefit business in limiting liability, there is much less to be lost in culling a herd of a few hundred than one of thousands, or shutting down a huge processing plant that constitutes most or all of your business.

The economies of scale have diminishing returns, so the economic defense for massive farms / plants is weak. Additionally, returning to more plants / herds, each smaller than modern silliness has in fashion, and more limited in product destination makes it faster and easier to detect and stop disease epidemics. I'm puzzled by what regulatory or insurance conditions might shield processors from the negative economic consequences of oversizing. Maybe it's like Ford deciding to pay out lawsuits instead of redesigning gas tanks prone to rear end explosions.

This is only the food safety argument for smaller scale, there is an additive argument about environmental degradation and transportation needs that is just as powerful.

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