Massachusetts Question 3

NPPC’s Position

Animal welfare and consumer access to high-quality and affordable pork are top priorities for America’s hog farmers. NPPC strongly opposes Massachusetts Question 3 because:

  • Unconstitutionally regulates commerce that takes place outside of Massachusetts
  • Governs activity outside of Massachusetts’ borders and beyond its police powers
  • Imposes substantial burdens on out-of-state farmers and their customers
  • Interferes and disrupts pork supply chains throughout New England by disallowing pork to ship through Massachusetts distributors for delivery to other New England states. This includes whole pork to consumers and any whole pork meat distributed through Massachusetts


Question 3 (Q3) was a 2016 Massachusetts ballot initiative that sought to ban the sale of pork from hogs born to sows housed in individual pens. Q3 is similar to California Proposition 12, a 2018 ballot measure that bans the sale of pork in California from pigs that are born to sows housed in individual pens and not not provided a minimum of 24 square feet of space (compared with current industry averages of 18–20 square feet per sow). Importantly, Question 3 It also prohibits the use of individual breeding pens, that allow sows to receive individualized attention and care as they recover after delivering and nursing piglets and protects them from other aggressive sows seeking to fight.

In June, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources released final rules implementing Q3. An FAQ Guidance Document was unveiled on July 11th and caused major concerns concerning the state’s determination of the implementation date and its impact on shipments of pork transiting through Massachusetts to other states. These problems immediately jeopardized pork sales in Massachusetts and neighboring New England states.

On August 3, a coalition led by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), with the National Restaurant Association, and several New England restaurant and hospitality associations filed suit seeking to stop the law’s impeding implementation. The suit also asks the court to find the law unconstitutional.

On August 10, The Massachusetts Attorney General’s (AG) Office and the coalition working on this case (NPPC and the restaurant associations) came to an agreement that Q3’s rules prohibiting sales of non-compliant pork should be stayed until thirty days after the Supreme Court of the United States issues a ruling in the lawsuit by NPPC and American Farm Bureau Federation challenging California’s Proposition 12.


Fast Facts


produces almost no pork.

Question 3

will lead to greater concentration in the U.S. pork industry and the loss of individual family farms.

Converting hog barns to Massachusetts-compliant ones will cost millions of dollars per farm, far beyond the budget of the family farm businesses that make up the bulk of U.S. pork producers.

Question 3 will mean significantly higher pork prices at the grocery store and fewer consumers who can afford this high-quality protein.

Related Resources