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May 8, 2017

Vote for the humane treatment of farm animals

(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

(Katherine Mayo/ Daily Collegian)

With all the craziness of the 2016 election, it is hard to remember that we are voting for more than just a president. At the state level, the ballot also includes four questions, one of which would end the cruel confinement of farm animals. Question 3 would make Massachusetts have minimum size requirements for farm animal containment. If this question passes, the law would prohibit breeding pigs, calves raised for veal and egg-laying hens from being held in confined spaces. ‘Confined’ in this context is defined as anything that “prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs or turning around freely.” There are many arguments in favor of this ballot question, but there still are few arguments against it.

Advocates for this question include The Humane Society of the United States, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Franklin Park Zoo, among many others. Some opponents are the United Egg Producers, Massachusetts Farm Bureau and National Pork Producers Council. The arguments in favor cite a need for humane living spaces for animals, while opponents argue about the cost.

Many hens throughout Massachusetts and the country sit in cages no bigger than an iPad, and are only given human interaction when it is time to collect the eggs. Other animals, such as pigs and calves, cannot sit and/or stand in their cages, and also knee-high in their own feces. Question 3 would enable them to spread their limbs and wings, turn around and lie down without touching the cage sides or another animal. It is a small step, but this bill would drastically improve the lives of farm animals.

But what about the cost? Despite what opponents say, this would raise the cost of just eggs about $70 per year to the average Massachusetts household, which is a family of five.

So why care about the lives of farm animals? Well, if you care about the quality of the foods you and your family are eating, it is important to know that the animals need quality living space in order to be healthy. Because, when the animals are healthy, consumers receive higher quality meat and there is less risk for e-coli and other diseases in your food. When chickens are happier, they tend to lay more eggs, which means more revenue for farmers. In my opinion, this is definitely worth the extra $70 per year.

Ariane Komyati is a Collegian contributor and can be reached at akomyati@umass.edu.

Comments
One Response to “Vote for the humane treatment of farm animals”
  1. Denise Leonard says:

    The information in this article is simply not true. There is one farm left in Massachusetts that raises egg laying birds in cages. While not huge at 12 x 18 inches, the cage is bigger than an iPad. The chickens are housed one per cage and have access 24/7 to clean feed and water. I would suggest that before advocating for this bill, you research the facts a bit better and visit some local farms. Most, if not all, do not keep their animals in the conditions described above. Farmers make their living raising the food you eat. Poorly kept animals simply do not produce a quality product. Farms in Massachusetts, with the exception of the one egg farm, do comply with this law already.

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