Massachusetts Passes Question 3, Banning Small Cages for Farm Animals

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Question 3, the Massachusetts ballot question that would have banned the sale of foods derived from animals raised in cruel conditions, has passed handily, setting new rules on the size of cages in which farmers can raise chickens, cows, and pigs.

Voters passed the referendum, Question 3, by a wide margin, multiple outlets are reporting as results continue to trickle in.

The question was championed by the Humane Society of the United States as part of a coalition called Citizens for Farm Animal Protection. The Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Animal Rescue League of Boston were also staunch advocates for passage of the ballot question.

Soon, it will be illegal in Massachusetts to sell eggs collected from hens raised in cages too small for them to spread their wings, meat from pigs kept in tight quarters—or pigs whose mothers were confined that way during pregnancy—and veal from calves confined to tiny crates before slaughter. The new law also outlaws the use of those cages by Massachusetts farmers.

The initiative calls for the law to take effect in phases and to be fully implemented by 2022.

Opponents, among them a coalition called Citizens Against Food Tax Injustice, had argued that mandates for better living conditions would raise grocery bills and burden low-income families. That group included the Retailers Association of Massachusetts and a collection of farming interest groups.

The result comes as no surprise. Polling has shown that voters favored passage of Question 3 by a wide margin.

The referendum went forward despite a lawsuit from a Massachusetts egg-producer (the overwhelming majority of eggs we eat come from out of state) and a low-income mother of five.


Spencer Buell Staff Writer at Boston Magazine sbuell@bostonmagazine.com