|Battery Cages (Maqi-commonswiki)|
Read "Edging Away From Cruel Eggs: Part 2—Slogging Toward Enactment"
Read "Edging Away from Cruel Eggs – Part 3: Strange Coop-Fellows"
On Election Day, 2016 a fantastic new law was approved by voters and practically nobody noticed! Question 3 was approved by 78% of Massachusetts voters--when enacted it will “prohibit any farm owner or operator from knowingly confining any breeding pig, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen in a way that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely.” With that vote, which was worded very much like California’s Proposition 2, the citizens of Massachusetts mandated that certain cruel animal husbandry practices, including battery cages for laying hens, will no longer be allowed. The measure also bans the sale in Massachusetts of cruelly produced eggs and meat from other states. The Massachusetts law will go into effect in 2022 and prior to that it will no doubt be challenged just as thoroughly as was the California law.
In parts One, Two and Three of “Edging Away from Cruel Eggs” I talked about the inherent cruelty of battery cages for laying hens, how California voters decided to ban them, and how that ban was subjected to numerous legal challenges by the egg lobby and other interests.
The final challenge hanging over the California law was filed in 2014. The plaintiffs were the states of Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Kentucky, represented by their attorneys general, and Iowa, represented by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. In their challenge, they argued that the California law protecting hens was unconstitutional because in stipulating that cruelly produced eggs from other states could not be sold in California, it interfered with interstate commerce and would unjustly harm the citizens of those states—each of the plaintiff states was an agricultural state that produced lots of eggs.