Editorial: The Republican Endorses a ‘No’ Vote on Question 3

The Republican, November 1, 2016

The case for a “yes” vote on Question 3 speaks to the emotional side of animal welfare, but it ignores the facts and will deal an untimely, unnecessary blow to consumers and farmers alike.

That’s why The Republican endorses a “no” vote on Question 3, which deals with the confinement of animals.

A “yes” vote would 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.

A “yes” vote will put Massachusetts farmers at a competitive disadvantage at a most inopportune time. Many are struggling to maintain farms, some of which have been in their families for generations, against increased out-of-state competition and other sources.

In Massachusetts, farmers already practice humane treatment of animals – without the referendum. Only one farm currently uses caged chickens. One.

Not a single farm in the state raises pigs or calves for meat in cages. Where Question 3 would really have an effect is on out-of-state farmers who want to sell their products in Massachusetts.

Adhering to guidelines demanded by the ballot question would incur a cost. Consumers can count on that cost being passed on to the consumers, especially regarding eggs, which are a staple product for all families but notably those on low or fixed income.

A similar law in California caused the price of a dozen eggs to jump 50 cents a dozen, or 18 percent. Insofar as products from from pigs and calves are concerned, an ongoing national trend toward cage-free animals – already practiced in Massachusetts – makes Question 3 unnecessary.

If Massachusetts farmers did not already have a powerful track record on treating animals humanely, the argument for “yes” on 3 would be stronger. What it will do now, though, is add another legislative burden on a farming community already under siege, give outside business people (in many industries) another reason to look at Massachusetts as anti-business, and raise costs for consumers – many of whom are not in position to afford it.

Those are more than enough reasons to vote “no” on Question 3, a referendum driven by well-meaning sentiment but without a fair and careful examination of the facts.