So, it looks like Massachusetts might get a ballot question about the welfare of farm animals:
Top state and national animal welfare groups on Wednesday launched a 2016 ballot initiative that would prohibit Massachusetts businesses from selling some meat and eggs from animals kept in small crates and cages.
The measure would mandate that, starting in 2022, Massachusetts farms and businesses produce and sell only eggs from cage-free hens; pork from pigs not raised in or born of a sow raised in a small crate; and veal from calves not raised in a very tight enclosure.
Advocates, including the Humane Society of the United States, framed the effort — which goes beyond their successful referenda on the issue in other states — as establishing modest standards to protect farm animals from cruelty. But the food industry warned it would raise prices and hurt family farmers, and the National Pork Producers Council called it an effort to advance a “national vegan agenda.”
That’s right, if we mandate that pigs be kept in spaces large enough so they can lie down prices might go up. And having minimal standards for the treatment of animals is advancing a vegan agenda.
I always assume there will be this kind of pushback about treating animals well (they’re only animals why should we care?). It’s why we really need a new word for caring about other living things–humans really are not ‘humane’. But this did surprise me a bit (the part bolded):
Dave Warner, a spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, said the initiative would result in financial damage to local hog farmers and, potentially, less availability of a “safe and sustainable” source of food.
The effort, he said in a statement, was about the national Humane Society using Massachusetts, a state with little pork production, “to gain momentum for advancing its national vegan agenda regardless of the negative impact it would have had on the health and safety of the animals and the farmers who care for them.”
Really, Dave, you’re worried about the health of animals? I’m sure you are:
“So our animals can’t turn around for the 2.5 years that they are in the stalls producing piglets,” Dave Warner, spokesman for the National Pork Producers Council, once remarked in a National Journal interview. “I don’t know who asked the sow if she wanted to turn around.”
By the way that link has the type of lifestyle of farm animals endure:
Gestation crates are tiny cages that confine pigs so restrictively they can barely move an inch during their entire lives. The crates, about two feet wide by seven feet long, are roughly the same dimensions as a pregnant sow’s own body, preventing her from even turning around.
The life cycle of a confined breeding sow is as such: the animal is locked inside a gestation crate and impregnated. For the four months she is gestating, the sow lingers in the cage, essentially immobilized, day and night. As she prepares to give birth, she is transferred to a different — albeit similarly restrictive cage — called a farrowing crate. She spends a few short weeks weaning her piglets there, is re-impregnated and put back into a gestation crate. The cycle repeats for nearly four years, after which the animal is sent to slaughter.