With a lawsuit still unresolved, Massachusetts officials agreed in court to wait until Aug. 23 to enforce a state law that requires farmers to provide enough room for veal calves, breeding sows, and egg-laying hens to stand up, lie down, turn around or fully extend their limbs.
The meat industry encouraged farm-state lawmakers on Wednesday to legislatively override the Supreme Court ruling that gives states the power to set animal welfare standards and regulate meat sales. The Supreme Court decision upholding California’s Proposition 12 “opens the door to chaos,” said Bryan Burns of the North American Meat Institute.
A California judge has extended his ban on enforcement of voter-approved Proposition 12 until July 1, to allow time for the Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the animal welfare law. Justices heard arguments on the farm-group challenge of Prop 12 in October and a decision is expected by the end of June.
Massachusetts officials will wait for a Supreme Court ruling on California’s Proposition 12 animal welfare rules before enforcing similar regulations that would ban the sale of pork from out-of-state farms that do not give hogs enough room to lie down, stand up, fully extend their legs, or turn around freely.
On Wednesday, two days after state legislators rewrote a voter-approved animal welfare law, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed the bill into law, averting a possible shortage of eggs and pork. The new law revamps housing standards for egg-laying hens and delays until Aug. 15 a prohibition on the sale of pork products from farms that do not give pigs enough room to lie down, stand up, fully extend their legs or turn around freely.
Randy Feenstra, a Republican leader in the Iowa Senate, announced that he will run against Rep. Steve King in the 2020 Republican congressional primary in northwestern Iowa on a promise of effective conservative leadership.
In a surprising amicus brief, the Justice Department last week recommended that the Supreme Court not hear Missouri’s challenge to California’s animal-welfare laws, which mandate larger cages for some farm animals. The stance could bode well for animal-welfare advocates fighting for similar legislation in other states.
Thirteen agricultural states filed suit in U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of overturning a Massachusetts law that effectively bans the sale of eggs, pork, and veal produced by farms that use “battery” cages for hens, sow crates in hog operations, and veal-calf stalls.
Matt Barron, the chairman of the Chesterfield Democratic Town Committee in western Massachusetts, "has resigned and left the party due to what he says is the party's blatant failure to address rural concerns," said the Daily Hampshire Gazette. Barron, who runs a political consulting business, told the newspaper in Northhampton, Mass., that he acted "after nine years of of growing frustration at the inability of the party to compete for rural and white working class voters."
Energized by victories in four cities and Illinois' largest county, Massachusetts state Rep. Kay Khan says she will introduce a soda-tax bill when the legislature meets in January, says public broadcaster WBUR-FM. Khan championed the tax in the past but believes this time is different: "I think it does make a difference to see that others are thinking about this, and you're not standing out there alone."
Farm groups that said they wanted protection against out-of-state animal rights activists and anti-GMO campaigners failed to persuade Oklahoma voters, who rejected a proposed right-to-farm amendment to the state constitution by a landslide. The defeat, along with passage of a Massachusetts referendum on livestock welfare, dented the reputation of farm lobby, which failed to stop a nationwide GMO disclosure law in July.
Half-a-dozen farm, retail and agribusiness groups say a voter initiative in Massachusetts on animal welfare will drive up production costs and equate to an indirect food tax. The proposal, which had more than 2-to-1 support in a recent opinion poll, would end the use of sow crates, veal calf stalls and battery cages for egg-laying hens.
The U.S. Northeast, home to 175,000 farms, is under the worst drought in more than a decade, says the NPR blog The Salt. "Many fields are bone dry," says NPR, "and that has many farmers thinking about how to manage their land, their animals and the water that is there."
The upcoming Massachusetts referendum on animal welfare standards - requiring more space for poultry, pigs and calves - boils down to "a class thing," says the executive director of a group that is challenging the proposal in court.
A study of 11 school districts in Massachusetts, where requirements for healthier school meals and snacks took effect at the same time, saw a 6.6 percent drop in food service revenue in the first year but revenues rebounded in the second year to nearly the same level as before, says the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The Humane Society of the United States and its allies launched a drive for a statewide referendum in the 2016 general election that would require that any animal raised or sold for consumption in Massachusetts be able to lie down, stand up, fully extend its limbs, and turn around freely, says Civil Eats.
States are following the law in averting cuts in food stamp benefits tied to utility costs, said Rep Jim McGovern of Massachusetts during a lively moment in a House Agriculture Committee hearing.