What is Question 3?
Question 3 is an attempt by some, mostly from out of state, to regulate how farmers across the country care for their animals and to control what consumers in Massachusetts have available to eat.
The ballot statement reads that Question 3 is about preventing animal cruelty, but what does the ballot statement omit?
Plenty. Left out is the price tag, who pays, how much, who is most victimized, and why animal care experts, including the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association, do not support Question 3.
Why is Question 3 being called a food tax?
Because it is a regulatory tax which will cost food shoppers an additional $95 million for eggs and $154 million for pork, in just the first year.
Is Question 3 providing citizens more consumer options at the supermarket?
No. Question 3 is designed to restrict consumer choices. As any shopper has seen at the supermarket, there are many clearly defined egg choices ranging from least to most expensive. Currently, 90 percent of consumers choose the most affordable eggs, which Question 3 seeks to outlaw. It is not an unintended consequence but a central objective of Question 3 to take away your food choices.
Are cage-free egg options readily available to consumers at the supermarket and most groceries?
Yes, but 90% of the eggs consumers purchase are conventional (i.e. from chickens raised in enclosures) eggs which is why Question 3 proponents are forcing this issue. This is not about wealthy shoppers with expensive tastes getting what they prefer, it is about preventing middle-class and low-income families from having affordable food options.
How does Question 3 affect Massachusetts citizens?
Proponents who want consumers to stop eating eggs and meat tell us Question 3 is only about preventing animal cruelty. But proponents intentionally neglect to tell the public that Question 3 will significantly increase the price of food for Massachusetts families.
Does Question 3 improve living conditions of some farm animals?
In most ways, no, which is why animal care experts, like the Massachusetts Veterinary Association, and recent scientific studies do not support the requirements found in Question 3.
What are some of the tradeoffs?
Cage-free chickens face 2-3 times higher mortality rates, poorer air quality with more ammonia and endotoxins, 'survival-of-the-fittest' nutrition, more broken eggs, and greater exposure of table eggs to chicken manure.
Why were hens put in barns and in cages in the first place?
Decades ago, farmers began housing hens to enhance their health and safety. Barns protect chickens from extreme weather, from violent predators, and from hen pecking and cannibalism encountered between aggressive hens. Separate, in-door cages provided fair nutri-tion by preventing the bullies from steeling feed from the weak. Further, these systems were designed to improve food safety by separating the egg from chicken manure, and because in-side, all the manure can be better controlled to limit runoff and protect the environment
Who will bear the brunt of the cost?
Clearly, low and middle income families and those with more children to feed. The burden will fall hardest on those 800,000 people in Massachusetts requiring food assistance.
How will Question 3 impact nutrition programs like SNAP and WIC?
It will cost additional taxpayer money for WIC, due to higher food costs. For SNAP, higher prices do not cost the taxpayer more, rather they force low-income people to choose less food. In this case, a family may buy one carton of eggs instead of two cartons of eggs.
Are eggs from small flocks safer than those from large houses?
No, not according to research findings released in August by Penn State University. After testing eggs from hundreds of randomly-selected small and large farms, less Salmonella Enteritidis contamination was found in eggs from large houses.
Can we produce all the eggs we need on small local farms?
Not even close, and it is not foreseeable that small growers could produce the 83 Billion eggs Americans consume annually.
Have other states tried similar regulations to those proposed in Question 3?
Yes. California passed a similar law (AB-1437) in 2010. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Shell Egg Index Price Report, the average daily difference (spread) between California and National wholesale egg prices increased from 16% to almost 90% after AB-1437 was implemented.
Did the California price increases make the news?
Yes. “Why California egg prices are skyrocketing” (CNBC 12/30/14), “Shortage of Legally Compliant Shell Eggs Sends Prices Soaring in California (Food Safety News 1/15/15) and “Cage law blamed for skyrocketing eggs prices in Calif.” (Capital Press, 1/21/15) are three examples.
Based on soaring prices in California, what can Massachusetts consumers expect?
According to analysis by Cornell University, in year one alone, consumers in Massachusetts will pay $95 million for eggs and $154 million for pork.
Why is this called injustice?
Because the few who have money and choices are sponsoring this measure to steal away the affordable choices upon which vulnerable people rely. Wealthy shoppers are imposing their ex-pensive tastes on those who do not want them or cannot afford them.
Why did the Washington and New York animal rights groups select Massachusetts for this effort?
Apparently as a stepping stone for their national agenda to limit access to and ultimately elimi-nate, animal protein from the diet. The animal rights group behind Question 3 wants to replace meat and eggs with plant-based diets.
Do the animal rights proponents oppose eating meat?
Yes. They promote “replacing meat and other animal-based foods in the diet with plant-based foods.” Making meat and eggs more expensive, as Question 3 will do, drives low-income con-sumers out of the meat and egg markets.
Is so-called “big agriculture” fighting Question 3?
Apparently not. Increasingly, Big Agriculture would rather comply with costly new regulations and then pass those higher costs on to the consumer. They believe that is better than to face being aggressively disparaged by the animal rights industry.
Why have proponents put this on the ballot?
Because they intend to get their way. Since they cannot get shoppers to bend to their will at the checkout counter, Question 3 allows proponents to force their will on all shoppers by driving up the costs of food they do not want us to consume.
Why can’t Question 3 opponents just inform the voters about the dangers of Question 3 in the campaign?
Elections often go to the side with the deepest pockets. The victims of Question 3 will be middle and low-income voters who lack the resources to hire expensive consultants, purchase large media buys and mount a large campaign to inform the public. To win, proponents are relying on the relative silence of the economically vulnerable during the campaign. Low-income shoppers have individual and collective power at the checkout counter, but relatively no power to fund campaigns.
Who in California opposed their expensive egg ballot aw?
A very diverse group of trade unions, farmers, Latino and African American organizations, small businesses, as well as food safety experts and veterinarians. For example, opposition included the California Teamsters, the American Vet Medical Association, The California State Conference of the NAACP, Latino Voter’s League, Greater Sacramento Urban League, and dozens more.
What are the opponents of Question 3 worried about?
World food demand is set to double in a working lifetime. According to Dr. Jason Clay of the World Wildlife Fund, we must grow the same amount of food in the next 40 years as we have in the previous 8,000. Further, production must be doubled using no more land, less water, and leaving a smaller carbon footprint than we do today. Farmers and their partners in science are on the case, but increasingly, there are those either oblivious or with special interest agendas who suggest that modern technology and modern farm practices should be discouraged, disparaged, and ultimately forbidden. Those responsible for providing the citizens of our country and our foreign consumers the safest, most affordable, and most abundant food options, now face “the advance of a food philosophy and a market environment hostile to new … technologies.”