Ever wondered which American states treat their farm animals best? Well, if a promising new ballot measure is accepted, Massachusetts will be added to that (short) list.
This new ballot measure would mandate that caging pigs, calves, and chickens be banned throughout the entire state of Massachusetts. Several animal rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, proposed the measure. If accepted, the measure would be similar to a California measure that was passed in 2008. Ballotpedia.org reports that California Proposition 2, Standards for Confining Farm Animals, “created a new state statute that prohibits the confinement of farm animals in a manner that does not allow them to turn around freely, lie down, stand up, and fully extend their limbs.” The law went into affect in California in January of this year. For this possible measure to become a reality in Massachusetts, the Attorney General must “declare the initiative constitutional.” If that happens, signatures will be allowed to be collected.
While the Massachusetts measure wouldn’t go into affect for a long while (2022, to be exact -- it's also minimal in comparison to the California measure), it would apply to all of the animal products sold or produced throughout the entire state.
Modern Farmer reports that if the measure is approved, the state would have to provide the following accommodations for chickens, pigs, and veal:
- Chickens would have to produce eggs in cage-free environments.
- Any pigs used for producing pork would have to come from animals not raised in crates.
- And: “All veal would have to come from calves in enclosures above a minimum.”
Not surprisingly, but totally disappointingly, some in the food industry (read: BIG FOOD) are not happy with this development and claim that the new measure, if accepted, could hurt family farmers and raise food prices. Also: Modern Farmer reports that the National Pork Producers Council laughably called it a “national vegan agenda.”
Most of these concerns are moot. While the measure wouldn’t change egg prices too much (experts say the egg price hike would probably be about 25 percent), the cost to build new cages would be quite substantial. (But that's just an upfront cost.)
However, as all of us know, providing healthier accommodations for animals means that animals live better lives -- and that keeps our food much healthier.
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