There is a growing concern in Massachusetts (and across the country) about the cruelty inflicted on animals used for food. Right now, millions of chickens, pigs and cows in factory farms are locked in cages so small they can barely move. Voters and charities across our state are mobilizing in support of the ballot measure known as the Act to Prevent Cruelty to Farm Animals, which would require farm animals be given at least enough space to stand up, turn around and extend their limbs.
I usually don’t write letters to newspapers, but the issue I want to talk about is too important for me not to take action.
There is likely going to be a measure on next year’s ballot in Massachusetts to ban the confinement of calves, pigs and hens in cages so small they hardly have any room to move, a common practice in the meat and egg industries. I am one of the hundreds of volunteers gathering signatures during every free moment I have to make sure that the Massachusetts voters will have the chance to express their opinion.
By Joshua Miller Hunters in Colorado were baiting black bears with jelly doughnuts and food scraps, then shooting the animals when they ambled up to eat. They used dogs to chase bears up trees for an easier shot. And killed bears in spring, leaving orphaned cubs. Many Coloradans opposed these practices as unsportsmanlike, but pressing state and legislative officials to act brought no change. So opponents tried bringing the issue directly to voters — and the ballot measure sailed to a lopsided victory.
I live in Acton and am volunteering to gather signatures to help put a question on the November 2016 ballot. Voting “yes” would ban the confinement of veal calves, egg-laying hens and pigs. As many of you know, veal calves are often chained by their necks in crates too narrow to turn around or lie down comfortably. Hens are crammed into cages so small they can’t spread their wings, and female pigs used for breeding are confined in crates two feet wide. They endure lifelong suffering.
Animals in factory farms often spend their entire lives cruelly confined in spaces so small that they cannot extend their limbs or stand up. This is not only inhumane but it is also unsanitary and unhealthy for people who consume the meat and eggs. Massachusetts voters have an opportunity to get a measure on the 2016 ballot that would end these confinement practices. I have been collecting signatures for this measure and have been encouraged by the number of residents who agree that these practices have no place in this state.
Most people will agree that protections from cruelty shouldn’t be limited to dogs and cats; all animals deserve compassion. That’s why I strongly support the new initiative to curb the worst forms of cruelty inflicted on chickens, pigs and cows used for egg and meat production. Decades of research have shown what’s obvious to most: locking animals in cages so small they can barely move causes them to suffer immensely. In addition, animals confined in these cages are constantly stressed and prone to illness, which results in higher rates of Salmonella and other harmful bacteria.
I'm a volunteer signature gatherer helping to put a measure on the ballot for November 2016.
RE “Egg industry to fight cage-free proposal”: The United Egg Producers and the National Pork Producers Council should be ashamed for trying to stop a ballot measure that would give minimal relief to millions of chickens, pigs, and newborn cows that are crammed in cages so tightly they are virtually immobilized. I think these trade groups will almost certainly be unsuccessful. Polling has found that Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly support measures ensuring that farm animals are given enough space to stand up, extend their limbs, and turn around.
On industrialized farms, calves raised for veal and breeding pigs are confined to crates measuring only slightly larger than their own bodies. They are so tightly penned they cannot even turn around for months at a time. Egg-laying hens are kept in equally poor conditions: barren wire cages with less space per hen than a single letter-size piece of writing paper. Most of us support reforms that would provide a more humane living environment for these animals.
Regarding the article “Egg industry to fight cage-free proposal” (Capital, Oct. 2), I am concerned that the conversation is too abstract. Most people have never seen a battery cage system, where cages are stacked one on top of another so that the birds above defecate on those below them. In these gigantic facilities, hundreds of thousands of hens live out their short lives without ever moving about or seeing the sun.