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Farm group says new animal welfare law to have minimal impact on Massachusetts pork producers

Pigs on an Illinois farm which does not use narrow cages to restrict movement.
Jeff Roberson
Pigs on an Illinois farm which does not use narrow cages to restrict movement.

The head of a group that represents Massachusetts farmers says a law set to take effect later this week will not have much impact on how pigs are raised in the state.

The law, which was passed by Massachusetts voters through a ballot question in 2016, requires pigs on farms be provided enough room to turn around and lie down.

It also requires pork produced outside the state, but sold within it, to meet the requirements.

Karen Schwalbe, who leads the Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation, said her members do not use the kind of confinement the law prohibits.

"It's a production agriculture practice," she said. "It's not used by small scale farmers like we have in Massachusetts. Massachusetts farmers take good care of their animals."

There is one wrinkle regarding the new law; a group of Midwest pork producers recently filed a lawsuit to try and stop the restrictions from taking effect. A judge has scheduled a hearing on the challenge for early September.

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.

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