The living conditions of farm animals has become a greater topic of discussion in recent years than ever before. Question 3 on the November 8 ballot gives people a chance to do something about those conditions.
A "Yes" vote on Question 3 would prohibit confinement of pigs, calves and hens in ways that prevent them from lying down, fully extending their limbs and wings or moving freely. Many farms, seeing the change in attitude on the part of consumers, are using larger cages and pens. This question would make those changes a requirement to sell eggs, veal and pork products in the state and would apply to retailers as well as farmers.
The opposition to Question 3 has been funded largely by an Indiana oil tycoon who has long been using his wealth to battle animal rights groups. Foes have argued that prices, specifically egg prices, would skyrocket if Question 3 passes, but proponents, among them the Humane Society and the MSPCA, assert that prices will go up between one and five cents per shell egg, a small price to pay to improve the difficult living conditions of hens. Logically, birds and animals raised under decent living conditions are more likely to be healthy, leading to healthier food for consumers.
In an Eagle opinion page column earlier this month, Anne Hanchett, a cattle and hog farmer at Manda Farms in Plainfield, endorsed Question 3, declaring that the "modest requirements" of the ballot measure should be supported by all responsible farmers. She said it provided an opportunity for consumers to join with farmers to assure better industry practices related to animals and the environment.
Ms. Hatchett is correct, and her opinion is that of someone directly impacted by Question 3. If passed, the new law won't be enforced until 2022, providing an adjustment period and a chance for the Legislature to make sure that no interstate commerce regulations are violated. The Eagle endorses a "Yes" vote on Question 3.