Massachusetts Citizens Say No to Cruelty
Over the past nine weeks, Massachusetts has embarked on a historic campaign to help end animal cruelty. We are proud to have been a leader in this effort as a member of the coalition Citizens for Farm Animal Protection. The coalition, along with countless advocates across the state, worked tirelessly to ensure that over 95,000 signatures were collected to qualify a measure for the 2016 ballot that would curb the extreme confinement and lifelong immobilization of animals at industrial-style factory farms in Massachusetts. The hard work of ASPCA volunteers, advocates and our partners made it possible to reach and surpass this ambitious goal in just two months, and proved just how much people value the humane treatment of animals.
It may come as a surprise to many people that there are no federal laws governing the conditions in which farm animals are raised. Two federal laws cover farm animals during transport and slaughter, but tragically, all poultry species are excluded, making these protections inapplicable to 95% of land animals killed for food. Because federal law fails to protect most farm animals, state laws like the one this ballot measure promotes are these animals’ last defense.
If passed by voters next year, the Massachusetts measure would phase out cruel and inhumane confinement systems for breeding pigs, egg-laying hens and veal calves by 2022, and ensure that substandard products from these cruel confinement systems are no longer sold in the state. With over 95,000 signatures collected, this important measure is now one step closer to qualifying for the November 2016 ballot, and we are one step closer to eliminating some of the cruelest practices carried out against our farm animals.
The sad truth is that most of the more than 9 billion farmed animals in the U.S. are raised on factory farms, which focus on profit and efficiency at the expense of animal welfare. Not only do the unsanitary, cramped conditions in these large-scale operations cause animals to live in pain and misery, they also pose serious risks to human health. Farms that are not properly maintained can be breeding grounds for salmonella and E. coli, which are passed to humans through meat, dairy and eggs. To combat these unsanitary conditions, animals are fed large doses of antibiotics—but bacteria is constantly adapting and evolving. Antibiotic abuse creates the potential for dangerous, new drug-resistant strains of bacteria to develop and spread among people.
At the ASPCA, we have fought (and will continue to fight) many battles to improve the lives and welfare of farm animals. This year alone we have raised awareness about the plight of broiler chickens raised for meat, fought ag-gag bills across the country, and opposed efforts in Congress to prevent states from enacting their own laws regarding “agricultural products”—a term that includes farm animals and puppies from puppy mills. We also worked to hold agricultural research facilities to Animal Welfare Act standards, educated consumers on seeking out welfare-certified products, and campaigned against horse slaughter for human consumption.
In each of these cases, as in all we do, the ASPCA’s mission is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” The Massachusetts ballot measure is the embodiment of that goal. It is effective, efficient, and will have an impact that reverberates throughout the factory farming industry in the United States. It is, at its core, about reducing the unnecessary suffering of animals. Thanks to the people of Massachusetts and the numerous dedicated ASPCA volunteers who gave their time and energy to collect signatures all over the state, we are one step closer to alleviating the pain of creatures who cannot speak for themselves.