Massachusetts Delays Effective Date of Question 3

December 22, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 22, 2021 – Following approval by the Massachusetts Legislature, Gov. Charlie Baker today signed into law a compromise measure delaying until Aug. 15, 2022, implementation of the state’s Question 3 initiative to prohibit the sale of pork that doesn’t meet new prescriptive animal production standards. The National Pork Producers Council, which worked tirelessly to secure this much-needed solution for pork producers and the entire pork supply chain, applauded the legislative relief.

The 2016 ballot initiative – similar to California’s Proposition 12 – will ban the sale of pork from hogs born to sows housed in pens that don’t comply with Massachusetts’ new standards. It applies to any uncooked pork sold in the state, whether it’s produced there or outside its borders. Nearly all pork currently produced in the United States fails to meet Massachusetts’ arbitrary standards.

“Question 3, like Prop. 12, lacks any scientific, technical or agricultural basis and only will inflict economic harm on America’s pork producers and even jeopardize the well-being of their animals,” said NPPC President Jen Sorenson. “We’re grateful the legislature listened to our concerns and delayed implementation of Question 3 so that at least producers in and outside the state can have more time to consider their options and continue to supply pork to Bay Staters.”

In addition to delaying the initiative’s implementation, the compromise measure requires the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to write rules and regulations for the law, in consultation with the state’s attorney general – who originally was given authority – within six months.

NPPC has pointed out that, like California’s 2018 ballot initiative, Question 3’s supporters claimed it would improve animal welfare and food safety. But the measure’s requirements will have no effect on either and may negatively affect both, according to numerous studies on animal housing.

“Pork producers with decades of experience using various housing systems know it’s not the type of housing that affects the health and well-being of pigs but the individual care – the animal husbandry – that’s given to them day in, day out,” Sorenson said. “These ballot measures actually make it harder and more dangerous to practice good animal husbandry.”

NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take their case against California’s Prop. 12. The agricultural organizations are challenging the constitutionality of one state imposing regulations that reach outside its borders, arguing that it stifles interstate and international commerce.

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NPPC is the global voice for the U.S. pork industry, protecting the livelihoods of America’s 60,000 pork producers, who abide by ethical principles in caring for their animals, in protecting the environment and public health and in providing safe, wholesome, nutritious pork products to consumers worldwide. For more information, visit www.nppc.org.