By Fay Bcharah
The third Massachusetts ballot question is getting the least discussion and recognition, yet it is still important to consider the repercussions of the vote. Voting yes on this question would prohibit the sale of eggs, veal, or pork of a farm animal confined in a cruel manner. Although most opinions on this question seem to be on one side, there are arguments saying to vote no.
WBUR (Boston’s NPR member station) writers William A. Masters and Jennifer Hashley make a point about Question three.
As Masters, a Nutrition professor at Tufts University, and Hashley, director of the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, said:
“Our support for Question 3 depends on whether we believe other states and the federal government would respond in ways that would keep egg prices low — or would take advantage of our concern for animal rights to raise egg prices, disproportionately affecting the health and wellbeing of vulnerable people.”
Masters and Hashley are concerned for the price increase on eggs, a food that many poor households rely on for cheap and complete nutrition. “The September 2016 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics found increases of 50 cents to a dollar per dozen.”
But, Citizens for Farm Animal Protection say otherwise. They are a coalition of nonprofit organizations working to prevent cruelty to veal calves, egg-laying hens, and pigs.
Animals are crammed into small cages and can’t move or extend their limbs, which is not only abusive, but also increases the risk for Salmonella. Many studies have shown there are less cases of Salmonella in cage-free farms. The FDA claims that roughly 142,000 Americans get sick from consuming eggs with Salmonella every year.
These medical bills actually cost the economy more than it would increasing egg prices. Egg industry studies show that using a cage-free process only costs 1-2 cents more per egg. In some cases, the costs have actually stayed the same.
According to Citizens for Farm Animal Protection, over 200 of the most popular grocery and restaurant businesses have already accomplished to switching to 100% cage-free eggs. McDonald’s publicly stated that the switch will not cause the company to raise its prices even a penny.
Many have the misconception that animals only feel physical pain, but this is simply a myth. According to animal welfare experts, confining animals into these environments is actually mentally abusive. Not only this, but enforcing cage-free systems protects the environment. Factory farms build enormous amounts of concentrated waste contaminated with antibiotic residue and disease.
The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations concluded that “animal agriculture is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions, measured in CO2- equivalent, than all forms of transportation combined.”
Giving animals enough space to stand up and move their limbs would be a crucial step towards reducing the environmental harm caused by factory farms.
Even though making healthier foods more accessible depends on keeping their prices low, in reality, the prices of cage-free eggs will roughly stay the same, while decreasing the risk of Salmonella. It is important to think about how passing this act will better the lives of these particular animals, and protect the environment as a whole.