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Massachusetts Anti-Animal-Cruelty Bill Passes House

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Factory Farming & Food Safety page.

BOSTON -- Farmers caught keeping hens, pigs, or calves in confined cages where the animals cannot move will be penalized under a bill given initial approval on Thursday by House lawmakers.

Animal-rights activists said the legislation eliminates the possibility for the "most notorious" factory-farming confinement practices that are cruel and harmful to animals. Across the United States, millions of mother pigs, baby calves and egg-laying hens are immobilized in cages for the duration of their lives, according to officials from the Massachusetts chapter of the Humane Society of the United States.

Currently, there are no farms in Massachusetts known to use the confining-cage techniques often employed by large-scale factory farms in other parts of the country, according to Rep. Jason Lewis, the bill's sponsor. Outlawing the practice in the state serves a dual purpose, he said.

"It is an issue of treating animals humanely," Lewis said. "It would also prevent large-scale factory farms from moving into Massachusetts, and that helps to support our smaller family farms that don't typically use these kinds of intensive farming techniques."

"Our smaller-scale farms are an important part of the Massachusetts economy," he added.

The bill (H 458) prohibits the use of gestation crates, and establishes "minimum humane standards" for the spaces that pregnant pigs, calves bred for veal, and egg-laying hens can live in. The animals need enough space in their enclosure to be able to stand up, turn around, and lie down, Lewis, a Democrat from Winchester, said.

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