Award-winning Environmentalist Bill McKibben Backs Massachusetts Ballot Initiative to Prevent Cruelty to Farm Animals

Press Releases

Endorsement by Bay State native comes just days after Stop & Shop and other retailers announced plans to switch to cage-free eggs

Bill McKibben, award winning author and environmental activist, has endorsed the Massachusetts ballot question aimed at preventing farm animal cruelty by phasing out extreme confinement of breeding pigs, veal calves and egg-laying hens. McKibben said the initiative led by a coalition called Citizens for Farm Animal Protection is a critical step in protecting the environment and building a more sustainable world.

“As a Massachusetts native and a long-time environmental activist, I support the Act to Prevent Cruelty to Farm Animals,” McKibben said. “If we’re serious about addressing environmental problems, we must look to our current system of agriculture, including reining in our inhumane factory farming system.”

The Massachusetts initiative would prevent farm animals from being kept in crates so small that they cannot even turn around and extend their limbs. The proposed law would require that the animals can stand up, lie down, turn around, and extend their limbs. In addition, the measure would establish a sale standard ensuring that veal, eggs and pork sold in the Commonwealth meet this modest requirement.

McKibben is a widely known author who in 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’ His 1989 book The End of Nature is regarded as the first book for a general audience about climate change and has appeared in 24 languages. He is a founder of 350.org, the first worldwide, grassroots climate change movement, which has organized twenty thousand rallies around the globe in every country save North Korea. A former staff writer for the New Yorker, McKibben, who lives in Vermont, writes frequently for the New York Review of Books, National Geographic, Rolling Stone and other publications.

McKibben’s endorsement comes on the heels of an announcement earlier this week by Albertson Companies, parent company of Shaw’s and Star Market, that it will be working with its suppliers toward a goal of sourcing only cage-free eggs for its store operations by 2025. Last week, Ahold USA, owners of Stop & Shop and several other grocery chains, announced they would be selling only cage-free eggs by 2022 – the year the Massachusetts initiative targets for implementation. Last month, BJ’s Wholesaler, based in Framingham, Massachusetts, announced the company will sell only cage-free eggs also by 2022.

“We clearly have significant momentum,” said Stephanie Harris, campaign director of the Citizens for Farm Animal Protection, the coalition leading the initiative. “Environmental icons like Bill McKibben and other leading figures are endorsing this measure and many major retailers are phasing out products produced in cruel confinement conditions.”

Ten states have already passed laws to address these kinds of inhumane practices, and nearly 100 major food retailers—including McDonald’s, Burger King and Walmart—are working with suppliers to make similar reforms in their food supply chains. Also, major organizations such as the National Consumers League, Consumer Federation of America, Union of Concerned Scientists and Center for Science in the Public Interest join the hundreds of organizations, institutions, farmers, medical and animal health professionals that have endorsed the ballot effort.

Citizens for Farm Animal Protection
Citizens for Farm Animal Protection is a broad coalition of non-profit organizations, farmers and businesses, community leaders, and grassroots activists dedicated to enacting a ballot measure to ban the cruel confinement of farm animals.

Media contacts:
Dianna Currey: 617 391 9637; dcurry@rasky.com
Mark Horan: 617 391 9669; mhoran@rasky.com