A task force sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trust has just released their findings in a thorough and balanced analysis of the current state of industrial animal production. The summary of the report can be found here.
The introduction of the report states:
Over the last 50 years, the method of producing food animals in the United States has changed from the extensive system of small and medium-sized farms owned by a single family to a system of large, intensive operations where the animals are housed in large numbers in enclosed structures that resemble industrial buildings more than they do a traditional barn. That change has happened primarily out of view of consumers but has come at a cost to the environment and a negative impact on public health, rural communities, and the health and well-being of the animals themselves.
Reading something like that makes me feel pretty good about spending a little extra for locally raised grass fed beef.