Former U.S. government officials, environmentalists and industry leaders have launched a two-year study to look at health and environmental impacts of large-scale animal farms.

The National Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production will probe how large farms — where the Commission said the bulk of poultry, pork, beef and dairy that Americans consume is raised — could increase exposure to new diseases or serve as sources of pollution.

The Commission will look at how large farms impact four areas: rural socioeconomics, animal welfare, food safety, and the environment.

The Commission is chaired by former Kansas Governor John Carlin, and also includes Dan Glickman, former secretary of agriculture; Thomas Hayes, president of Cargill Meat Solutions Corp.; and actress/activist Daryl Hannah.

National Milk Producers Federation has had discussions with the Commission about the direction of its investigations. The Commission's next meeting will examine dairy production in California when it conducts a field hearing there in early November.

The project is funded by a $2.6 million grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts and managed by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.