Voters in Massachusetts just took the Bay State one giant step closer to delivering a powerful punch to agribusiness interests that want to keep locking farm animals in cramped, overcrowded cages. Fueled by more than a thousand volunteer signature gatherers, The HSUS and other members of the coalition backing the farm animal protection ballot measure in Massachusetts finished our second and final phase of signature collection and ran through the tape at full gallop. In fact, volunteers gathered more than three times the number of signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.
While The HSUS is working hard on this, we are by no means alone. This has been a fabulous collaboration with dozens of organizations, including the ASPCA, the Massachusetts SPCA, the Animal Rescue League of Boston, Zoo New England, Humane League, Mercy for Animals, Compassion Over Killing, Farm Forward, Compassion in World Farming, Animal Equality, Farm Sanctuary, and now the Massachusetts chapter of the Sierra Club, which recently endorsed the ballot measure.
As I travel around the country, people ask me, why don’t animal groups pull together? Why don’t we work more closely with environmental organizations, especially on agriculture issues?
Well that’s exactly what we are doing.
I want to send special thanks to the Sierra Club, which is a powerful force for good in our society. The Sierra Club just devoted valuable real estate on its home page to an extended discussion with me on The Humane Economy, the key elements of animal protection, and the intersection of our organizational interests. In the extended interview, I devoted considerable attention to food and agriculture issues and didn’t pull punches on the importance of tackling these issues and asking all people of conscience to look at the true costs of factory farms – environmental, personal health, public health, and animal cruelty.
The Massachusetts ballot measure pulls together so many groups with varying concerns about the consequences of factory farming. Generally speaking, if passed, the measure would make it illegal in Massachusetts to sell eggs, veal, or pork from facilities that confine animals in cages. It would help codify into law the corporate cage-free pledges we’ve secured from so many of the biggest food retailers in the nation. And it would make one thing very clear: there’s simply no future in caging animals. That era is officially ending.
The factory farming lobby sees the momentum we have on this campaign, and it knows that voters overwhelmingly favor the reform we’re seeking. As such, they’ve filed a lawsuit to try to boot us from the November ballot altogether, denying voters the ability to decide such an important issue. We expect that court case to be resolved in early July.
Already, the Big Ag industry is calling Massachusetts “the next battleground” and is gearing up for a fight, should their lawsuit fail. Their desperate attempt to defeat this ballot measure is a sort of last stand against the wave of action to end extreme confinement. But they’ll be hard pressed to withstand the influence and reach of our coalition and devoted advocates who toiled to gather the signatures to put this measure before voters.
When the factory farmers bring their fight to Massachusetts, our coalition – so diverse and so strong — will be ready.