Food production is essential to the world's population of people, and where food animal production occurs it will continue to be determined by the economic viability in the area and the production efficiency that can be attained. We have focused for many years on these two aspects as the foundation for the future of animal agriculture. However, with increased concentration of animals per operation to attain economic viability, environmental risks have increased. This has given rise to increased environmental standards for food animal production in order to preserve the environment. Sustaining the environment is critical for the future of food animal production.

An ever-arising force affecting the future of animal agriculture is social acceptance. Increased social pressure arises from the environmental risks, perceived concerns with quality of life in the community, the notion that a large-scale operation is not a family farm, and the perception that animal well-being is less in a large-scale operation. Social pressure has been intense, even in some areas that have fewer animals per land area than 20 years ago. Although the population may prefer that food be produced locally and at low cost,[7] the reality of the economic forces resulting in larger animal operations may not even enter their mind as a trade-off. Fewer people have agrarian backgrounds, yet more of them desire to live in the country. The increased presence of low-density housing in rural areas and the increased size of animal production operations will continue to cause challenges in the urban and rural interface. In some communities, it is the social acceptance of animal agriculture that will determine the continued presence of animal agriculture, even if the land and economics are not limiting. These social issues also will direct some of the changes in public policy that affect land use,[8] from preserving open space in rural areas to bringing agricultural enterprises more in line with what is expected from other commercial businesses.

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