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Fall Signature Drive: MA Farm Animal Confinement Initiative

Supporters are gathering petitions for a 2016 ballot initiative to curb farm animal confinement in Massachusetts. Courtesy: Humane Society of the United States.
Supporters are gathering petitions for a 2016 ballot initiative to curb farm animal confinement in Massachusetts. Courtesy: Humane Society of the United States.
September 8, 2015

BOSTON - People who are concerned about animal cruelty are hitting the streets gathering support for a 2016 Ballot Initiative to curb farm animal confinement in Massachusetts.

Rob Halpin, director of public relations with MSPCA-Angell, says the majority of people, in the Commonwealth and the nation, don't want farm animals subjected to cruelty as they are being raised to provide food for dinner tables.

"People around the state, including 65 Massachusetts farmers and counting, farmers who raise animals for food have already signed on to this ballot initiative," says Halpin.

Some in commercial agriculture argue the changes could increase food costs, but Halpin says industry studies show those cost increases would be negligible, especially when compared to the hidden costs of cruel animal confinement.

Stephanie Harris, the Massachusetts State Director of the Humane Society of the United States, says 90,000 signatures are needed to put the measure on the 2016 ballot.

"It would require that farm animals be able to stand up, lie down, turn around and extend their limbs," she says. "It's a very commonsense measure, and it's very important. The measure would also ensure that substandard, inhumane and unsafe meat and eggs coming from facilities that use these cruel confinement systems aren't sold in the Commonwealth."

Halpin says similar legislation has passed in ten other states, and he notes those are not states populated just by vegetarians.

"Even people who meat, unapologetically eat meat, want these animals to be treated just a bit less cruelly," says Halpin. "This is a very modest measure."

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey certified the Farm Animal Confinement Initiative, along with several other measures that could end up on the 2016 ballot.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - MA