Massachusetts groups unite against intensive farming

By Chloe Ryan

- Last updated on GMT

Animal rights groups want to ensure animals raised for food are treated more humanely
Animal rights groups want to ensure animals raised for food are treated more humanely

Related tags Meat Beef Livestock Pork Poultry

Animal rights groups in Massachusetts are joining forces to campaign for a state-wide vote to ban several intensive farming practices.

If successful, Massachusetts voters will be presented with a ballot in 2016 to decide whether to ban the use of gestation crates in pig farming, reduce the confinement and tethering of calves in veal farming, and ban the production of eggs from caged hens. The law would then come into effect in 2022, in order to allow time for farmers to upgrade their facilities.

A similar vote in California in 2008 was passed and came into effect in January 2015.

Citizens for Farm Animal Protection, which has announced the new ballot initiative in Massachusetts, will need to collect 90,000 signatures in order to qualify the proposal to be put to the public vote.

The measure would ensure that certain farm animals are able to stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs by phasing out the extreme confinement of breeding pigs, veal calves and egg-laying hens​,” said a spokesperson for the group.

Walmart and McDonald's

Major names in the food industry, including Walmart and McDonald’s, have already announced voluntary measures to move towards sourcing their meat and eggs from higher welfare sources.

Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said: “The biggest names in the food retail sector are already moving to buy their pork and eggs from farmers raising animals outside of small cages and, by approving this measure, Massachusetts residents will bring along the outliers and assure more humane treatment of animals raised for food.​”

However, some industry bodies raised concerns about the costs of adopting higher welfare measures. The Boston Globe​ reported that 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​”. 

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