A ballot initiative in Massachusetts poses grave consequences for animal agriculture. Initiative 15-11 would ban, within the state, the production and sale of eggs from hens and meat from pigs and calves kept in tight enclosures. Read that again. There’s a minuscule amount of meat and eggs produced in Massachusetts, so the law would ban the sale of proteins from other states that don’t conform to the proposed law.

Think Vermont’s GMO labeling law. The Massachusetts proposal – sponsored by the Humane Society of The United States – would be the first attempt to ban the sale of meat and eggs from animals raised a certain way.

This week a lawsuit was filed seeking to take the initiative off the ballot, and Diane Sullivan, policy director for a Boston-based advocacy organization, says the proposal has many unintended consequences. Like dramatically increasing food costs for those who can least afford it. James H. Dunn, a farmer who joined in the lawsuit, says the law would actually hurt farm animals. “This law will require farmers to use housing that is more expensive to build and makes animals more susceptible to injury, disease, and death. The lawyers who wrote this law just don’t know anything about caring for livestock.”

PETA lawsuit in peril

A judge’s comments in court yesterday make it appear PETA’s lawsuit against Whole Foods is likely a flop. PETA and Whole Foods shopper Lori Grass sued Whole Foods in September 2015, calling the high-end grocer's five-step animal welfare rating system for meat suppliers a "sham." The Whole Foods rating system was developed by the Global Animal Partnership, and all its suppliers must meet Step 1 standards to sell products in Whole Foods stores, which would be "no crates, cages or crowding." PETA disputes that suppliers live up to those standards.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Nathanael Cousins told PETA attorneys, "If Whole Foods is right in their arguments, I am inclined to dismiss the case." The final ruling will come later.

Hershey’s jerky?

Hershey’s is not a brand associated with meat, but it may become one soon. This summer, Hershey’s will step into the meat snack category with a jerky from its Krave Pure Foods division. The company is targeting meat snacks as a way to battle declining sales in the chocolate category. Industry analysts say consumers are seeking healthier and protein-rich snacks.

OKEE VAC

Okeechobee Livestock Market, has implemented a herd health program called OKEE VAC, which aims to help boost the price of cattle enrolled. “OKEE VAC is a program that will help the entire cattle industry from start-to-finish, from the producer to the buyer to the feedlot,” said Todd Clemons, president of the Okeechobee Livestock Market. “We noticed a lot of cattle producers were already following a weaning and vaccination protocol, so we decided to create an official program to designate this.”