Massachusetts voters approved a measure on Tuesday that protects farm animals from severe confinement.
According to The Huffington Post, this will "eventually prohibit farming methods that keep animals severely constrained for virtually their entire lives, including the use of veal crates for baby calves, gestation crates for mother pigs and battery cages for egg-laying hens."
Massachusetts joins 11 other states who have approved bans on one or more of these practices. The state will not only prohibit all three, they will go further and also prohibit the sale of meat and eggs produced via those methods, even from animals from outside the state.
Farms and producers have until 2022 to comply, which, er, doesn't do much for the animals currently in such dire situations, but at least it's a start. California is currently the sole state that bans the sale of food products due to cruelty concerns, but this law only covers eggs from caged hens.
HuffPo says that "roughly 9 billion animals are killed for food in the United States each year, and just one decades-old federal law governs their humane treatment." This law applies only to the moment animals are slaughtered, and doesn't address their treatment from birth onward. It also exempts chickens and other animals that comprise over 90 percent of animals that are slaughtered for food.
Professor Peter Singer teaches bioethics at Princeton, and in the article refers to caged hens as "the most closely confined, overcrowded and generally miserable animals in America."
This also points out a moral conflict for many of us. Who doesn't love a baby pig? Cute, cuddly, and purveyor of funny little snort noises. But? those same little pigs are also the source of bacon and ham, things many of us like to eat.
While we have theÂ option here to switch to a meat-free diet, we also have the Massachusetts voters to applaud for taking a stand and at least providing these animals with the most humane treatment possible.