Ag issues dealt blow on Election Day

A handful of state issues did not go the way agricultural supporters wanted when the final votes came in Tuesday night.

In Massachusetts, voters decided in favor on Question 3, to make Massachusetts the first state to ban confinement of farm animals and to restrict the sale of animal products in the state that come from these confinement practices.

Ballot Question 3 will prohibit Massachusetts farms from confining breeding pigs, veal calves or egg-laying hens in cages that prevent the animals from lying down, standing up, fully extending their limbs or turning around.

The ballot question also prohibits Massachusetts businesses from selling eggs or raw cuts of veal or pork produced from confined animals.

The measure was backed by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS). Unlike the expensive battle in California’s Prop 2 fight on similar housing standards, agricultural groups did not pour an excessive amount of resources into the fight. Politico reported that Forrest Lucas, the oil industry executive from Indiana who was on Trump’s short list for interior secretary, donated $195,000 and the National Pork Producers Council put in $100,000, according to state campaign finance disclosures.

The Citizens for Food Tax Injustice – who pushed for No on 3 – estimated passage of the initiative will drive up the costs of eggs by $95 million and the cost of pork by $154 million in the first year alone.

The law would take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

Right to farm

In Oklahoma, HSUS had turned its attention to fighting against a “right to farm” measure, which HSUS said seeks to prevent any future regulations on agriculture, including humane treatment standards.

SQ 777 was endorsed by Oklahoma agricultural groups including the state’s livestock groups and Oklahoma Farm Bureau.

They say the Right to Farm state constitutional amendment is a way to protect Oklahoma's family farmers and ranchers from “unreasonable government interference and attacks by out-of-state special interests.”

Following the vote, Oklahoma Farm Bureau president Tom Buchanan said, “On behalf of the more than 26,000 family farmers and ranchers, Oklahoma Farm Bureau wants to thank the thousands of Oklahomans who voted for State Question 777, Oklahoma’s Right to Farm. Family farmers and ranchers of Oklahoma work hard to provide the safest, most affordable food this nation has seen. Although we are disappointed in [Tuesday’s] vote, we will not waver in our commitment to ensuring our family farmers and ranchers can continue to operate without fear from outside interest groups and provide consumers with choice when they go to the grocery store. This has always been the charge of Oklahoma Farm Bureau and we will continue in this endeavor.”

Indiana and Kansas both approved an amendment to the state constitution on the right to hunt and fish.

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