Photo courtesy of National Pork Board and the Pork Checkoff.

Massachusetts takes major step against pork sale restrictions

The Massachusetts House — by an overwhelming margin of 156-1 — voted to delay until Jan. 1, 2023, a provision of the Question 3 initiative that will prohibit the sale of pork that doesn’t meet the state’s production standards, a move championed by National Pork Producers Council, which aggressively has been seeking relief for pork producers and the pork supply chain.

The House also transferred jurisdiction for drafting regulations from the state’s Attorney General to the Massachusetts Department of Agriculture. The measure is expected to easily pass the state Senate next week before heading to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker for signing. Originally set to take effect Jan. 1, 2022, the voter-approved 2016 ballot initiative — similar to California’s Proposition 12 — bans 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.

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. NPPC and the American Farm Bureau Federation recently 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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