COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON 02133
Senator Joan B. Lovely
2nd Essex District
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 22, 2021
Bill To Stabilize Supply of Egg and Pork Products Signed into Law
BOSTON– Following action by House and Senate lawmakers earlier this week, a bill to ensure a more secure egg and pork supply chain in the state, was signed into law Wednesday. The legislation updates Massachusetts’ farm animal welfare standards passed by voters in 2016 to align with other states.
“When Massachusetts voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot question guaranteeing animal welfare in 2016, our state had the strongest protections for farm animals in U.S. history,” said Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “Since then, national and industry standards have shifted towards even stronger animal welfare and consumer safety protections. With this law, Massachusetts is taking action to prevent cruelty to farm animals and ensure that our state has continued access to eggs that meet the expectations of the Commonwealth’s residents. I want to thank House Speaker Mariano, for his collaboration, Senator Lewis for his steadfast focus on this issue, his fellow conferees and their staffs, and the residents of Massachusetts, including animal welfare advocates and egg-producers, for their support for this legislation.”
“This law ensures that Massachusetts consumers and small businesses will have continued access to affordable egg and pork products, while also honoring the intent of the animal welfare ballot question,” said House Speaker Ronald J. Mariano (D-Quincy). “I want to thank Senate President Spilka, Chair Dykema and the other members of the conference committee, as well as my colleagues in the House and Senate, for the hard work that ultimately led to this agreement.”
“I am pleased our Commonwealth has taken another step towards promoting and enhancing our animal welfare standards,” said Senator Joan B. Lovely (D-Salem). “This legislation ensures that Massachusetts will continue to uphold our humane factory farming standards while providing more time for the industry to adapt to regulatory changes, thereby supporting small businesses’ COVID-19 recovery and inhibiting pricing increases for products on which our residents rely. I would like to thank Senate President Spilka, Senator Lewis, and my Senate and House colleagues who worked to get this across the finish line.”
An Act to upgrade hen welfare and establish uniform cage-free standards updates a 2016 law passed by the voters of Massachusetts. It would align Massachusetts’ standards to that of other states by:
- Providing detailed cage-free standards that consist of one square foot of usable floor space per hen in multi-tiered aviaries, partially-slatted cage-free housing systems or any other cage-free housing system that provides hens with unfettered access to vertical space so that hens can engage in vital natural behaviors such as perching, scratching, dust bathing and laying eggs in a nest.
- Ensuring protections for various types of egg products. As passed in 2016, the law applied to shell eggs, but not egg products. This legislation would also cover egg products, mirroring legislation passed in other states.
The bill would also enhance market and regulatory certainty by:
- Delaying the effective date of the new standards for pork products to August 15, 2022, to allow the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) ample time to promulgate, and the industry to comply with, robust regulations. The ballot initiative passed in 2016 required regulations to be promulgated 2 years in advance of the effective date of the act in order to provide adequate time for affected industries to comply. This legislation gives producers not only more time to comply with the new standards but also an additional opportunity to participate in the updated regulatory process.
- Updating authority for promulgating rules and regulations to include both the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and MDAR. As passed in 2016, the law assigns to the Attorney General exclusive authority to promulgate rules and regulations as well as to enforce the law. This legislation would update the regulatory authority so that it’s shared between the AGO and MDAR. Enforcement authority would remain exclusively with the AGO. Many states with similar laws include their state department of agriculture in the regulatory process.
An Act to upgrade hen welfare and establish uniform cage-free standards is endorsed by New England Brown Egg Council, The Country Hen (a major egg producer in the Commonwealth), United Egg Producers, and the Massachusetts Food Association, which notes that the language in this legislation offers a “readily available solution” to ensure retail-endorsed cage-free standards. The bill also has the support of numerous animal protection organizations, including the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Farm Sanctuary, the Humane Society of the United States, Animal Rescue League of Boston, Animal Equality, Animal Outlook, The Humane League, Harvard Law School Animal Law & Policy Program, Mercy for Animals, Compassion in World Farming, and World Animal Protection—all groups that have been working to increase welfare for farm animals for decades.
Text of An Act to upgrade hen welfare and establish uniform cage-free standards can be found at malegislature.gov.