The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance (NEAFA) was part of the coalition that fought against the 2016 Massachusetts ballot proposal that dictated minimum cage sizes for hogs, poultry, and veal, because we know that animal scientists, not the general public, are the experts on animal husbandry practices. Unfortunately we lost the ballot battle but we had confidence that the courts would weigh in on the interstate commerce issues. That optimism was dashed when the Supreme Court refused to take the case. In an extraordinary move, the Trump Administration weighed in on the matter when the Justice Department urged the Supreme not to take the case.
This sequence of events demonstrates the fragility of the social contract between farmers and the general public. Despite our knowledge on how to best treat livestock, we cannot assume that the best animal husbandry practices will be permitted by a society that increasingly wants to have a say in what we do. Further, the anti-animal agriculture crowd will continue to exploit the political process to carry out their agenda. The animal agriculture industry is facing challenges from many fronts, yet the court’s decision, or lack thereof, may be the biggest threat yet.
The following article was written by David A. Lieb for the Associated Press, reporting on the U.S. Supreme Court decision and state lawsuits.