Animal welfare bill could impact meat supplies, prices

An animal welfare ballot question approved by voters back in 2016 is set to take effect soon after being pushed back several months due to supply chain shortage
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 4:51 PM EDT
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CHICOPEE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - An animal welfare ballot question approved by voters back in 2016 is set to take effect soon after being pushed back several months due to supply chain shortages.

“There’s so many things that there’s shortages on, it’s almost like throwing salt on a wound,” said Larry Katz, president of Arnold’s Meats.

With supply shortages continuing to put a strain on local businesses, we found that meat suppliers in Massachusetts may soon face another hurdle.

“Big companies like Smithfield, IBP, Indiana Packing have already said we’re not gonna sell pork in Massachusetts,” Katz added.

Back in 2016, voters approved an animal welfare act, better known as ballot question #3. This measure is meant to modify the state’s minimum size requirements for farm animal containment, but with supply chain shortages during the pandemic, Governor Charlie Baker signed legislation to push back the start of pork regulations by seven-and-a-half months to August 15.

Katz told Western Mass News he fears this will only make things worse.

“The only state in the country that pass the law is Massachusetts - not Vermont, not Connecticut - so it’s really not fair to the supermarkets, the wholesalers, the retailers, and also to the public because now, you’re going to take something like a pork tenderloin that was two dollars a pound and now if you want to buy, it’s going to be close to eight dollars a pound,” Katz explained.

One thing Katz finds confusing is it does not universally apply to all pig products.

“So now, it’s bacon and it’s pieces of pork, whether like a pork tenderloin or pork chop. It’s anything to do with fresh pork and I don’t understand why they’re saying if you make hotdogs or sausage, then it’s okay and it’s the same for that you’re using for fresh pork. Nobody’s being clear with us and nobody’s giving us a true answer,” Katz noted.

Katz said although pushing the date back a few months may have helped in the meantime, it could also lead to more shortages since many restaurants and meat markets may be stocking up.

“It’s going to get to the point where if you have for your house, you can sell it, so a lot of your companies are loading up the truckloads and truckload, so that they can say ‘Well, I already had it in my building,’” Katz said.

Customer Jorge Perez Rodriguez told Western Mass News how this will personally affect him.

“In my personal employment, I have to buy a surplus of food to feed large amounts of clientele, so if I have to buy say 10 pounds of pork, I have to pay like I was hearing eight dollars up per pound, that’s multiplied by 10, pretty much what I have to pay just to feed the people I feed on an normal basis and most companies only get like a set amount of money to buy this food and only making it more difficult to supply people that are in need,” Rodriguez said.

He also feels things were different back in 2016 and with the current state of the supply chain, people may feel differently about their original vote.

“I believe what they’re doing should be evaluated. Of course, animals deserve better treatment, but in reality, people still need to eat,” Rodriguez added.