Massachusetts's Ballot Initiative Seeks to Limit Extreme Confinement of Farm Animals

In Massachusetts, AWI has joined veterinarians, farmers and other animal protection groups to get some of the most extreme confinement practices on factory farms banned through a new ballot initiative. The initiative seeks to make it illegal in Massachusetts to confine egg-laying hens, calves raised for veal, and sows in a manner that does not allow them to lie down, stand up, fully extend their limbs, or turn around. The initiative would also ban the sale of products in the state from animals who are prevented from performing these modest but essential behaviors. Additionally, the initiative would provide the largest space requirements for egg-laying chickens in the country—1.5 square feet per bird, a significant leap from the industry standard of less than 0.5 square foot per bird. (Currently, the largest space requirement in the country is that of Michigan, at 1.0 square foot per bird.)

Before the initiative gets on the ballot, it must first pass through the legislature, which will do one of four things: enact it, deny it, propose a substitute, or ignore it. If it is ignored, more signatures will be required to move it forward. Should it pass, producers will have to meet the new standards by 2022.

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