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Voters to get chance to vote on 'cruel' confinement of certain farm animals

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled today a ballot question that asks voters to outlaw keeping egg-laying hens, veal calves and breeding pigs in "cruel" confined quarters is legal.

The ruling means voters this November will get a chance to outlaw both the very close quarters for these animals in Massachusetts and the sale of any products that come from animals raised that way anywhere.

One argument by the people seeking to strike the question was that it was too broad under the state constitution because it applies to three separate species and that "voters may believe that certain confinement practices are beneficial
for one species but detrimental for another, so that voters would not be able to affirm or reject the entire petition as a unified statement of public policy."

Hogwash and poppycock, the state's highest court ruled. "Overly cramped
conditions" are overly cramped conditions, regardless of species, the justices wrote.

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Comments

I'm not a fan of factory farming, but as a practical matter, most of the eggs, milk, pork and chicken sold in Massachusetts probably comes from animals who live in rather confined conditions. I predict that if this passes, and it's actually enforced, there are gonna be some sad people when they can't buy eggs, milk or meat any more in Massachusetts.

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I disagree, this is a win for the animals! How will this affect people not being able to purchase those items anymore? I don't understand your point.

I already purchase cage-free, vegetarian fed chicken eggs (think Nellies, Eggland, etc.) and you can tell the difference in quality. Yes, they cost about 2-3 times more than store brand eggs, but they are worth it.

This is long overdue.

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- can afford 2-3 times the amount for store brand eggs.

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Not saying everyone can and who knows what their pricing will be, do you?

Do you really think the eggs you purchase at Shaws, Market Basket, etc come from MA? I don't think they do, I could be wrong. So this wouldn't affect those store brands, no?

It's a win for animals and I hope to God this passes.

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It doesn't matter where they're from, the initiative would ban their sale. Of note, it's only applied to whole eggs, whole pork meat & whole veal meat. Doesn't regulate their sale in "combination foods" (sandwich, soup, pizza, etc.). Won't impact beef/chicken. Would go into effect in 2022 if passed.

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Star Market, Shaws, Stop & Shop and BJs have already publicly committed to selling only cage free eggs by 2022 and 2025 respectively. There are plenty cage free eggs to go around, there will be no shortage.

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I disagree, this is a win for the animals! How will this affect people not being able to purchase those items anymore? I don't understand your point.

My point is very simple. Unless I'm very much mistaken -- and I'm happy for you to prove me wrong with facts -- the large majority of eggs, milk, pork and chicken found in Massachusetts stores is from animals that are NOT free-range, cage-free, etc. Get it, Patricia? This isn't an argument about what would be better, for us or for livestock -- it's a simple statement of fact about what is. If you were to remove all products that aren't free-range, cage-free etc. from the shelves, you'd find very little milk, eggs, chicken or pork to purchase in the average store. I'm frankly astonished that you need to have this spelled out for you.

I already purchase cage-free, vegetarian fed chicken eggs (think Nellies, Eggland, etc.) and you can tell the difference in quality. Yes, they cost about 2-3 times more than store brand eggs, but they are worth it.

That's very nice, Patricia, really - I applaud your decision. I do the same, although in my case it's the farm down the road, not Nellie's or Eggland. If you count up farms and backyard producers, my town probably produces enough eggs to supply all its residents with some left over. How about your town? What's your town's level of egg production? How about milk? Do you have cruelty-free milk production in your town? For that matter, how much cruelty-free milk do you have in your store? If all cruel milk were removed from the shelves tomorrow, how much would be left over for purchase?

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This is New England. Most of the milk comes from family farms. Over half the eggs in Market Basket and Costco meet these standards.

New England exports dairy products - and much of that product is already raised in reasonable ways because the market is there and people will pay.

Bad examples. Annoying mansplaining, too.

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Some dairy products processed in New England may be exported to other parts of the country (and even around the world), but about 1/4 of milk used in dairy processing plants in New England is from New York. Additionally, compared to average dairy consumption patterns, New England is a net importer of dairy products.

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This is New England. Most of the milk comes from family farms.

Got a cite for this? Most milk produced in New England comes from family farms because we don't really have agribusiness here, not like Nebraska. We don't have the land for it. But half of Massachusetts dairies went out of business between 1986 and 2001. Production is shrinking, not growing.

New England exports dairy products

The export of a few specialty products means nothing here.

Bad examples. Annoying mansplaining, too.

Your examples are worse as is your mansplaining (understandable given the chromosomes).

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Was a long time ago. There has been considerable rebound since then, but you stopped there because the last 15 years of expansion were inconvenient.

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Nothing would be removed from store shelves tomorrow. These places that are abusing animals to add to their profit margin will have more than enough time to adjust.

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Why would they adjust? Do you really believe that Massachusetts represents that big a market?

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With eggs, the industry is already moving rapidly towards cage-free. The major pressure is from California having passed its own cage-free requirement and on the corporate side with Wal-Mart, McDonalds, etc agreeing to switch. Right now, the money is in moving to cage free to meet that growing demand. You see McDonalds phasing this in over years because the supply needs to catch up with them, and it will. From a price perspective, California eggs initially had a price spike due in part to this but more so due to their drought spiking the cost of chicken feed and the avian flu hitting the year (2015) this mandate went into effect. Since then, the California egg prices have gone down and stabilized. Massachusetts consumers would see a price increase too but doesn't face those same issues California had in addition to the rapidly increasing supply of cage-free eggs. As for the cost of meat, it's hard to gauge what effect this would have but there is intense pressure on producers to stop the gestation crates already with pigs. The largest pork producer, Smithfield, already is close to phasing those crates out, as an example. Long story short, you'll likely see some modest price increases if this passes but there's no evidence to suggest Soviet-style shortages would result. As for the moral mandate here, well, it's obvious to me, and I hope to most people.

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I get it. Again, I hope this passes and I've no worry there will still be enough food for everyone.

Most farmers have adapted already and those that haven't will be forced to. Good!

You probably don't mean to, but you sure come off sounding like a dick.

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Most farmers have adapted already and those that haven't will be forced to. Good!

Most FARMERS have. Most agribusiness hasn't and won't. The "cruel" conditions (and I don't disagree that they are cruel) is part of their economy of scale. It's the reason, the ONLY reason, why chicken is cheap in the United States (google "city chickens"; chicken as a major source of meat is a recent thing in the US, and unknown in other countries). It's the reason why "the other white meat" is cheap in the United States. You un-cruel the hog farms in the Delmarva, and you're going to lose a lot of productive capacity. Can you explain how this is NOT the case?

You probably don't mean to, but you sure come off sounding like a dick.

You probably don't mean to, but you sure come off sounding convinced of the objective truth of your opinions and unwilling to consider new information. Also, not infrequently, like a dick.

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I think this is a win win. Animals not being tortured and people having to see where their food comes from and what is actually done to these poor animals..

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For PETA nutjobs, loss for everyone else.

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You do realize you still get to vote on this, right?

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Side with the most money wins, usually.

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Side with the most money wins, usually.

Nobody's putting a gun to anyone's head and forcing any of us to vote for the side that spends the most. That's entirely our own choice.

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How is it a loss?

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Vegans pushing policy on non-vegans.

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The law would prohibit "conditions that prevent them from lying down, standing up, fully extending their limbs, or turning around freely."

You don't have to be a vegan to recognize that such conditions are torture, regardless of what species is being forced to live under them. If you can't see that we're all earthlings, and that as humans with a sense of ethics and morality we have an added responsibility to make sure we are not dismissing the suffering of other living beings (especially those on which so many of our species depend on for life-giving food), then you have lost sight of what humanity is all about.

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Why don't we try to take care of all the two-legged critters out there before we start worrying about whether or not our food is able to stand up, sit down or crap comfortably.

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Smart people are capable of handling more than one issue at once. Perhaps you haven't experienced this first hand.

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Very few actually are.

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Why don't the 2 legged critters wake up and see that treating 4 legged critters that nourish you humanely makes for a better product and a better environment? Oh, that's right you were brought up to think you more special than every other living being out there.

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You can thanks that pesky thing called evolution.

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A vegan wouldn't consume any of these products anyway. Your comment is complete nonsense.

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Policy designed by a group who is unaffected by such policy. Really it's all about pushing people to veganism by making the alternative cost-prohibitive.

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Could you point me to some documentation that the backers are, in fact, all vegans?

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One of the parts of the MA ballot question process that could use fixing is that it's hard to track down who's behind things -- they just have to list a contact person.

For those who care, there's a coalition group, Citizens for Farm Animals, putting this together. Funded primarily by The Humane Society of the United States, has plenty of other org's involved: non-vegan groups (Zoo New England, United Farm Workers, Animal Rescue League Boston, etc.) as well as vegan advocacy groups (Farm Sanctuary, The Humane League, etc).

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Must be why my meat CSA was asking people to sign the petition to get it on the ballot. Their egg supplier was promoting it as well.

A friend of mine with a small farm was also promoting it, so I guess none of these people are affected by rules covering the things they do and sell. Strange.

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Organic stuff right? It's in his interest to support regulations that put his competitors out of business.

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farms and dairies are not certified organic. They may practice organic policies but aren't interested in filling out the paperwork every year.

Organic has nothing to do with deplorable conditions for caged animals. Two different things.

And yeah, I'm sure Allandale, Volante, etc. farms are planning on putting industrial food providers out-of-business.

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n/t

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The crew that pushed the ban on 'inhumane' trapping a few years back cited 'facts' about how the absence of the use of conibear traps wouldn't negatively impact property owners. That turned out to be bs.
This is another example of animals before people. No thank you.

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Is food - making it affordable for everyone as long as it's nutritious and safe to consume is much more important than ensuring that a bunch of chickens or pigs have lots of space to crap on. Non-food animals are obviously different, but who cares about a walking chunk of meat? Wouldn't you want all the low-income folks to be able to put food on the table, or should they shut up, check their human privilege and stick with rice and beans?

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There's more to food than meat, and humans don't need to consume anywhere near as much meat as is in the typical American diet. If the whole world ate like the average American, the earth simply couldn't sustain it. So, whatever you want to say about "low-income folks" and "privilege", ultimately we are going to have to deal with the fact that we as a species can't afford for us to be eating so much meat.

(meat-eater here, btw -- I just recognize it for what it is)

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to dictate to people who make less money than you what they should and should not be able to afford to eat.

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Are you a champion of the dispossessed?

I mean, really. You just want their kids to starve differently like Rep. Ryan does.

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Since you obviously know what I think and believe better than I do. Come on, I'm waiting.

I mean really. In your world, is it just not possible for me to be against a policy that everyone admits will raise food prices? In order for you to sleep at night, do you need to be secure in the knowledge that I'm actively egging on (pun intended) every fool idea to make it harder for people to live their lives without exerting time and sweat working around well-intentioned but completely idiotic policies and regulations?

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to run up to New Hampshire for a grocery run? Are staties going to do random stops at the border to make sure you're not carrying contraband eggs? Will it be legal to transport Mass-illegal eggs through the Commonwealth to another destination so long as you don't stop along the way?

At what point will the law be updated so that only electric chickens may be used to produce eggs?

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If you actually read the proposed ballot initiative, you'd see that there is no penalty against consumers. There would be a fine against a business for knowingly selling eggs or meat from a supplier that cruelly confines the animals. The more you know.

http://www.mass.gov/ago/docs/government/2015-petitions/15-11.pdf

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So I can run to NH and buy cheap eggs, but I can't import them for resale and I probably can't accept money from my friends to go on the grocery run on their behalf either. That's much better. If these people had the courage of their convictions, they'd've written it to ban sale, possession, production or consumption. Just like fireworks and drugs. But they're trying to be sly in spreading the Great and Glorious Vegan Revolution, so they frame it so you only loose a little freedom at a time, hopefully in a way you won't notice until it's too late.

This is as good a time as any to point out that it's not possible to be 'cruel' *to* a food animal, animals not being sentient things (or for the religiously-minded, the don't have souls) and thus can't really be said to suffer. So while animal cruelty laws are good things to have on the books to catch the sorts of "people" who might want to graduate to cruelty to humans, ascribing any sort of moral significance to the food supply (assuming the food supply isn't human, that is) is something that I do not accept as a valid intellectual endeavor.

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This is as good a time as any to point out that it's not possible to be 'cruel' *to* a food animal, animals not being sentient things (or for the religiously-minded, the don't have souls) and thus can't really be said to suffer.

There is a mountain of research on animal sentience and the growing consensus is that many animals do feel pain and do have emotions. The facts are exactly the opposite of what you claim. A quick google search or just paying attention to this issue makes that very clear. You obviously have personal motivations to deny that reality because it allows you to justify this ill treatment, which is fine if that's what you want to do. But the evidence on this is increasingly clear, and includes pigs and chickens. If you are a dog owner, would you treat your dog in the same manner that factory farms treat pigs or chickens? I think not. If so, then there is something wrong with you.

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figured out how to quantify sentience and consciousness, has measured it in food animals, and found it to be of comparable value to that in humans? I were feeling snarky, I would phrase it as "science has measured the soul and found it in a chicken!"

Sorry dude. Just plain no. Your statements fail the Philosophy 101 smell test. My claim that I'm sentient and have a soul is unfalsifiable to you and vice versa. We accept it as truth because we both say it's true for ourselves and it's convenient to believe it about eachother. Animals don't do that. Therefore they don't have that.

Yes, it's an arbitrary distinction as you say, but I'm sticking to it. The second-to-last bit of chauvinism that you can pry out of my cold, dead, brain is that humans worth orders of magnitude more than the lower animals.

The very last bit of chauvinism is that in scifi movies, the humans have to win. Suck it, Avatar!

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