Massachusetts Veterinary Community Shows Strong Support for Farm Animal Welfare Reform

April 22, 2016
by Barry Kellogg, VMD, Senior Veterinary Advisor

chicken, cows, and pig

Photos by Ron Bailey/iStockphoto, Richard Clark/iStockphoto, Kathy Milani

As a long-time licensed Massachusetts veterinarian and a proud member of HSVMA, I am pleased to report that more than 500 veterinary professionals in the state have already joined with the HSVMA in endorsing a Massachusetts ballot measure to end the extreme confinement of farm animals, which is truly a major animal welfare issue.

Those endorsements include approximately 370 veterinarians, (which is nearly 20 percent of the licensed veterinarians in the state), 66 veterinary clinics, 46 veterinary technicians, and 37 veterinary students from Tufts University. Support for the ballot measure is very strong and diverse. The broad coalition of supporters includes farmers, community leaders, environmental organizations, small businesses, and numerous animal welfare groups.

The sizeable veterinary support for the ballot measure – targeted for the November ballot in Massachusetts – is another example of how the veterinary community is taking an active stand against the inhumane housing methods used on large factory farms, in this case in the form of gestation crates, veal crates and battery cages.

In 2014, more than 1,000 veterinarians representing all 50 states joined HSVMA in petitioning the AVMA to adopt a stronger policy statement against the use of gestation crates. In 2012, more than 100 New Jersey veterinarians supported legislation to ban gestation crates in their state. And in 2008, more than 700 veterinarians supported the passage of Proposition 2, which effectively ended the use of gestation crates, veal crates and battery cages in the state by 2015. The veterinary profession is speaking out loudly against those practices and I am truly proud of that.

View HSVMA's veterinary report on intensive farm animal confinement methods»

The Massachusetts ballot measure is similar to California’s Proposition 2 in that it will require that egg-laying hens, female breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal have enough room to stand up, lie down, turn around, and fully extend their limbs. The Massachusetts measure will also ensure that shell eggs and whole, uncooked cuts of pork and veal sold in the state are compliant with these standards.

Last fall, volunteers helped gather more than 100,000 signatures to place the measure on the November 2016 ballot. A second signature-gathering phase is anticipated to start in May, after which the measure can then be certified for the November 2016 election.

In addition to collecting veterinary endorsements for the measure, HSVMA veterinarians have also provided expert testimony before the Massachusetts Legislature and have spoken to the media and at Tufts veterinary school on the measure from a veterinary perspective. The focus of these presentations have been to provide scientific information on the physical and mental harm that extreme confinement causes the animals as well as the public health and environmental implications of intensive housing methods.

We expect that veterinary support will continue to grow for the measure in the months leading up to the ballot, and are thankful for all the veterinary professionals who have already joined us in supporting this important animal welfare reform. The public looks to the veterinary community for guidance on issues pertaining to animal health and welfare and the veterinary support for the measure will have a significant impact in ensuring its success.

You can view a complete list of veterinary endorsements on the ballot campaign website. And if you know any Massachusetts colleagues who are not yet listed, please share our cover letter and endorsement form.

Sign on to protect farm animals in Massachusetts!
Veterinary Professionals: Click here»
Organizations and Businesses: Click here»