To the people of Massachusetts, please don’t believe the words of those peddling the “Be Kind to Farm Animals,” Campaign for Question 3, “Minimum Size Requirements for Farm Animal for Containment.” They are focusing their attention on agriculture that is rarely practiced in the Bay State. Massachusetts farms are not the industrial sized operations found in the midwest or other parts of the country. Massachusetts conventional livestock farms are small in number and our sustainable farms are growing in number. This bill directs people to the small number of those farmers who are using conventional methods such as battery cages and farrowing pens, and takes the consumer’s eye away from our growing number of small scale, sustainable, humane farms.
The people who initiated this campaign are primarily aligned with the Humane Society of the United States, of HSUS, NOT the organization it used to be. HSUS is now occupied by PETA members, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. These same “ethical people,” release captive ferrets and mink to help the animals escape from their cages, allowing them decimate the local wildlife until they finally consume each other in their ravenous hunger. These are the same people who cry foul when someone uses real fur, but promote the oil industry through their use of plastics, pleather and “fake fur.” Kind hearts can be damaging if they are not accompanied by correct knowledge. (www.humanewatch.org) These organizations are more interested in animal rights, than they are animal welfare, and those are two very different concepts.
I am not at all a fan of “battery cages,” where chickens can’t turn around. Neither am I a fan of chicken houses where the chickens can’t feel the sunshine on their backs, bathe in a dust bin or peck for their grit. These are supposedly acceptable in this bill. If you want healthy eggs and healthy chickens, seek out a local farmer, a farmer’s market or a food hub and connect with the actual farmers. Don’t let this bill assuage your concerns because it only affects a VERY small number of growers in Massachusetts, but gives a false sense of security to the consumer.
Farrowing pens are needed by some farmers who keep large numbers of gigantic pigs, yet these massive “piggeries,” are not found in Massachusetts. Is it better that a piglet be rolled on, or stepped on because its mother was bred to be big and have poor vision? This is the reason for farrowing pens. Again, I’m not a fan of these pens, and for the most part these are used for just a short time, when they’re used at all. The farms that I’ve seen use them have large enough ones that the sow can turn around while wearing the pen, she just can’t roll on her piglets. If you don’t like that idea, seek out one of our Bay State farmers who range their pigs on pasture, without farrowing pens, and raise healthy, proportionally sized delicious pork. (www.mass.gov/agr/massgrown or www.nofamass.org)
The veal operations referenced in this article are not used at all, or in a very minimal way, in our state because they don’t raise healthy calves. Farmers like me want babies that don’t need medical attention all the time, are strong and quick growing, and self-sufficient as soon as possible. That is not the case in a veal house operation. Calves are kept in separate pens from their mothers on dairy farms because today’s cows provide more milk than their calves can really use, yet they will try. They can get very sick from drinking that much milk. They can also be stepped on in the herd, or injured by other calves, so there is good reason to keep them in fresh air, open pens with lots of exercise and room to stretch.
There certainly are problems with American agriculture, and with Massachusetts’ opinions of farmers, but would you let a farmer fix your car? Would you let your doctor advise you on long term financial planning? Then why should you as a consumer tell a farmer how to do his or her job? Find a farm that you can visit. Talk to the farmer, and check out how they farm. Use your market strength instead of a legal sledgehammer to address the problems you feel exist.
This bill doesn’t address healthy food, reasonable prices for food, the scale of agriculture in Massachusetts. This is the animal rights activists attempt to control the conversation in a liberal, highly developed state. If it can pass here it has stronger legs across the country.
This bill also has a strong chance to raise the price of food in Massachusetts, as it would ban the importation from other states, any animal or eggs that don’t comply with the requirements. Given the size of New England’s agricultural industry, and especially Massachusetts’, it will make it more difficult to find affordable eggs, or pork. Veal is not a meat that is widely used in low income areas, but since there are no “veal specific” operations in the Bay State, it should not affect that price much. I ask you, as a small farmer, don’t let a “bleeding heart,” put a small farmer out of business. Each of us has a right to choose our own food, but we don’t have the right to dictate how more informed people can conduct their business. Vote No on Massachusetts Question 3.