On March 25, 2009, seven of the ten Pittsfield City Council members made history by voting for an ordinance modeled after California’s Prop 2, the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. Pittsfield is the first city in the country to pass such an ordinance.
The new ordinance requires that egg-laying hens, breeding pigs, and calves raised for veal have enough space to stand up, lie down, turn around, and extend their limbs. While Pittsfield does not currently have any facilities that will be affected by the moderate ordinance, they have sent a strong message that they want to keep factory farms out of the Berkshires, where small family farms and rural communities contribute so much to the character of the area.
The MSPCA believes that animals raised for food are entitled to live their lives free of unnecessary pain, suffering and stress, and are also entitled to a humane death. Further, the MSPCA condemns those practices--many of which are associated with factory farms--that cause needless pain, suffering and stress to the animals involved, including the use of crates and cages that either totally isolate individual animals from others of their species or crowd many animals uncomfortably together in order to save space and increase handling efficiency. These “common agricultural practices”, legally allow institutionalized cruelty at factory farms to occur every day in the United States. That is why additional laws, such as the Pittsfield ordinance and H.1456, specifically address these cruel practices.
Unfortunately, a majority of food products that come from animals are derived from animals who have been raised in the types of confinement systems that the MSPCA opposes. These systems are also bad for the environment, small farmers, and rural communities. Fortunately, there are alternatives.
The Humane Farm Animal Care organization (the MSPCA-Angell is a founding member) operates a program called Certified Humane Raised and Handled, which is an inspection, certification and labeling program for meat, poultry, egg and dairy products for animals raised to humane care standards. Purchasers can search for locations where food that complies with their standards can be found. The list is extensive and includes common supermarkets found in Massachusetts. Other certification programs are also available, as are updates and information on certification programs.
Many Massachusetts restaurants, stores, and institutions, such as Finagle a Bagel, Brueggers, Harvard, Tufts, Trader Joes, and others, are moving toward supporting more humanely raised food.