by Allan Kornberg, M.D.
As Farm Sanctuary’s executive director, I spend a lot of my time traveling across the country to advocate on behalf of farm animals. But at the end of the day, I call Massachusetts my home. That’s why I’m excited to announce that, as part of our Anti-Confinement Campaign, we’ll be working in the Commonwealth this year to pass an important bill that would ban the cruelest forms of confinement for farm animals — the Massachusetts Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act.
It’s not news that the animal agriculture industry views farm animals as mere commodities. It’s this widespread conception that has led to institutionalized cruelty in the form of battery cages, veal crates and gestation crates. In these confinement systems, millions of egg-laying hens, calves and breeding pigs spend the majority of their lives in dark warehouses, behind bars and barely able to move. Farm Sanctuary’s Anti-Confinement Campaign aims to eliminate these particularly abhorrent conditions through state legislation, the ballot box and public education and outreach, and, thanks to our members and supporters, we’ve got a successful history to build upon in 2011 and in coming years.
Seven states have now enacted laws to ban one or more of these confinement systems. This year, we hope to add Massachusetts to that list. This bill, recently introduced by Senator Robert Hedlund and Representative Jason Lewis, would prohibit the cruel confinement of farm animals in a manner that prevents them from standing up, lying down, turning around freely, or fully extending their limbs.
At least 17,000 egg-laying hens in Massachusetts are confined in battery cage facilities each year. As a resident of the Commonwealth, I know that if compassionate people of Massachusetts — and Americans everywhere — knew the truth behind factory farming, they would reject these shocking and abusive practices. In fact, the city of Pittsfield has already enacted a local ordinance prohibiting these three confinement systems. And Cambridge and Brookline have passed resolutions encouraging residents to avoid products of intensive confinement, including veal and eggs from battery caged hens.
By working together with our members and supporters, I believe it’s only a matter of time before we can change the hearts and minds of lawmakers across the U.S. and make these cruel cages and crates things of the past. If you’re a fellow Commonwealth resident, please join me in supporting the Massachusetts Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act and help put this crucial law on the books. If you live elsewhere, you can still help us build on this momentum by taking action today to push for anti-confinement legislation in your state.