Amid the madness of the general election, it’s easy to lose sight of what you’ll be voting on this year. Massachusetts has four questions on the ballot, and there’s at least one you should be sure to vote for: Question 3.
Question 3 will “prohibit the sale of eggs, veal, or pork of a farm animal confined in spaces that prevent the animal from lying down, standing up, extending its limbs, or turning around.” Yes, you read that right: at the moment, nothing prevents farms from raising animals in cages so small they can’t even stand up or turn around. Question 3 is a pretty basic measure – let’s at least allow farm animals to move their legs.
Sadly, animals raised on factory farms typically live in excruciating conditions where they can barely move. Chickens are confined to cages as small as an iPad. Pigs, who are as smart as dogs and chimpanzees, are regularly kept in tiny gestation crates for breeding most of their lives. This confinement causes tremendous physical and psychological suffering. Would you let your dog live in one of these cages their entire life?
Fortunately, voters and companies around the country are working to phase these practices out. Almost a dozen states have enacted measures similar to Question 3, including California, Michigan, Arizona, Florida and Maine. Major food companies including Oscar Mayer and Costco have stopped selling pork from gestation crates; McDonalds and Walmart are switching to cage-free eggs. In fact, a strong majority of likely voters in Massachusetts support Question 3, and most Massachusetts farmers already give animals enough space to comply. But many factory farms continue to use cruel confinement across the U.S., and Massachusetts should join those bringing these practices to an end.
It is critical, of course, to ensure that everyone can afford nutritious food, and we should demand that policymakers do more to expand access to affordable groceries for all. Fortunately, we don’t need to torture animals to do so. Costco and Walmart, for example, demonstrate that even highly affordable food options can phase out the use of extreme confinement. So let’s do our part to make sure food in Massachusetts is responsible and humane, and vote yes on Question 3.