Wendell Egg Farm Output Will Be Cut in Half

The Recorder, November 11, 2016, by Domenic Poli

WENDELL — Business at the only Massachusetts farm affected by the passage of Question 3 on the Nov. 8 ballot is unlikely to suffer much, though egg output will probably be cut in half.

Brian Bailey of Diemand Farm in Wendell said his family’s business will adhere to the “Act to Prevent Cruelty to Farm Animals” referendum, due to take effect in 2022, but he is unhappy about what he considers misconceptions the public has about it.

Bailey stressed he opposes animal cruelty, but this law will be unnecessarily bureaucratic.

“We have respected animals for every single year of those eight decades (the farm has operated) and we continue to,” he said. “The chickens are content, they’re relaxed, they’re happy. They’re protected from cannibalizing each other. They’re protected from salmonella, they’re protected from pests, because they’re up off the floor.”

Bailey, who referred to himself as a third-generation Diemand, said the family is not yet sure if the farm will expand its cages or go cage-free and allow the birds to roam on the coop’s floor.

 “Here’s the question I want to ask the average person,” Bailey said outside the farm’s store on Friday afternoon. “How many animals actually are going to be given more humane treatment because of this (law)? Not one single pig in Massachusetts. Not one single calf in Massachusetts. The only animals that are actually affected are the approximately 2,700 chickens we have in cages.

He added that “The reality is it actually acts as an import restriction and Massachusetts already imports 98 percent of their eggs.”

The farm currently raises 3,000 egg-laying hens with 187 square inches of floor space and Bailey said that number will likely be reduced to 1,500. He said the farm has added several other revenue streams in the past 80 years.

Bailey said this new law will cost state taxpayers a minimum of $1.5 million in administrative costs annually because the government will have to create a division that regulates imports from every farm that sends eggs to Massachusetts. He said many people seem to incorrectly believe this law will result in all chickens living cage free. He said the law creates a minimum size for cages.

Question 3 prohibits any farm owner or operator from knowingly confining egg-laying hens in a way that prevents them from “lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely.”