Mass. Ag Under Attack

 

Wednesday, September 2nd, Massachusetts’ Attorney General approved numerous ballot question proposals, most notably one proposal which could have severe adverse impacts on the state’s food consumers and food providers.

Two weeks ago, multiple groups that included Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) announced a campaign to put a proposal their lawyers drafted before Massachusetts voters that would “prohibit raising certain farm animals in small cages and crates and would effectively ban the sale of eggs, pork and veal from animals kept in such tight spaces, wherever they are raised.” The cleverly drafted proposal appears to go so far as to prohibit enriched and colony housing.

In order to get this proposal on the 2016 ballot, the group had to file the ballot question with Attorney General Maura Healey. Now with her approval, the process has begun for them to collect signatures. They will be required to get 64,750 signatures by November 18th of this year.

If approved by voters, this ballot initiative would take complete effect in January 2022. But it will not get to that point without an intense fight from those who believe in affordable food options for food shoppers, economic justice for the low income people hardest hit, and for sound science. In effect, this proposal is a regressive food tax which “the haves” can tolerate and “the have­-nots” cannot.

This proposal would drive up the cost of eggs, pork, and veal in Massachusetts and any other state that does business with Massachusetts. The effects would mirror what happened in California, where Proposition 2 and AB 1437 (aka “The Bad Egg Bills”) more than doubled the consumer price of eggs.

Regrettably, it is becoming transparent that taxing food may not be an unintended consequence but may very well be the objective. Radical groups who oppose people having the choice to eat animal protein know that driving up prices forces low and middle ­income people out of the market.

Humane Society of the United States likes to use a state-by-state approach to legislation. Trying to get federal legislation requires a scientific standard of proof, regulatory review, in-­depth deliberation, bipartisan support, and perhaps most importantly, it does not facilitate a robust fund­raising campaign. Going to the states is long term and makes a great deal of profit for “non­profits”. They gain approval in compliant states like California, and then use those examples to pursue legislation elsewhere. Rich Bonanno, president of the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Foundation, sums HSUS’s strategy up well:

 

“The Humane Society is just using Massachusetts as a pawn to go to another state where these practices are common and say Massachusetts has banned this, you should too.”

 

The courts and the Congress will ultimately have to protect the commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution or we may have as many as each of the fifty states regulating production in the other forty nine states, fifty different ways. While this approach may be good for raising more hundreds of millions of dollars annually for the giant food police industry, it threatens the ability of farmers to sustainably meet the growing human nutritional needs. Sooner rather than later, it will become important for “liberals” who care about the needy to stand up for the needy who are stuck with more bills than they can afford to pay.

Some suggested, perhaps naively or perhaps to justify inaction, that California was simply a harmful but isolated precedent. With this news from the Attorney General, it looks like we will see the voters in Massachusetts decide if the bad precedent will become the dangerous pattern we anticipated. Clearly, as the bipartisan group of Attorneys General who are suing California claimed, the unconstitutional interstate commerce clause violation in California is only the beginning, not the end.

We’re here to say that this battle over the rights of food producers and consumers in Massachusetts and the rest of the country has only just begun. We will do our part through our Mission Statement of Inform, Protect, Respond. We will INFORM America’s consumers of HSUS’s true nature. We will PROTECT our freedoms and way of life from their radical ideology. And finally, we will RESPOND to HSUS activities in Massachusetts and elsewhere by strongly opposing their punitive agenda.

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