Questions still concerning the transshipment of whole pork through the state.

Ann Hess, Content Director

July 12, 2023

2 Min Read
Massachusetts Question 3 implementation delay granted

The U.S. pork industry has gained some additional time to work with Massachusetts authorities to address important issues associated with Question 3 compliant pork reaching the New England region—thanks to an extended stay on implementation until Aug. 23. This week District Judge Margaret R. Guzman granted the order by the plaintiffs, including the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, Restaurant Law Center and the National Pork Producers Council, to lengthen the stay which was set to go into effect July 12.

The Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General has agreed that it will not enforce pork sale rules against any plaintiff or non-party during the stay period.

A 2016 ballot initiative, Question 3, was first set to be enforced on Aug. 15, 2022; however, before that date, an agreement was reached between the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General and a coalition led by the National Pork Producers Council, that the law should "be put on hold at least until 30 days after the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling" in the California Proposition 12 lawsuit brought by NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation.

The Massachusetts law "prohibits any farm owner or operator from knowingly confining any breeding pig, calf raised for veal, or egg-laying hen in a way that prevents the animal from lying down, standing up, fully extending its limbs, or turning around freely." Exceptions to this confinement rule include temporary holding cells for transportation, fairs, medical research, veterinary exams and other purposes.

Prop 12, which passed in 2018, specifically requires pork meat sold in California to come from breeding pigs that have been able to stand up, lie down, fully extend limbs and turn around freely. Turning around freely means turning in a complete circle without any impediment, including a tether and without touching the side of an enclosure for another animal. The enclosure also must have 24 square feet of usable floorspace.

While Question 3 is similar to Prop 12—banning any uncooked whole pork meat sold in the state that does not meet specific sow housing requirements, regardless of where it was produced—Question 3 goes further, not allowing the transshipment of whole pork through the state. According to NPPC, this jeopardizes an estimated $2 billion worth of pork that moves through Massachusetts into neighboring New England states.

NPPC said while the stay "doesn't delay the need for producers to make on farm changes, it does provide time for the parties to work through and fix important issues associated with Q3 that threaten to cut off additional markets to producers."

About the Author(s)

Ann Hess

Content Director, National Hog Farmer

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