Politics

Question 3: Mass. will require cage-free eggs

DINA RUDICK/GLOBE STAFF/FILE

Voters will decide in November whether all eggs sold in Massachusetts should come from cage-free hens.

Animal welfare advocates scored a victory Tuesday with the passage of Question 3, which will prohibit what they say are the cruelest ways hens, calves, and pigs are raised for food. The measure will limit the sale and production of food from animals kept in tight enclosures. Here’s what you need to know.

What’s the deal with that animal question on the ballot?

Question 3, written by a coalition of animal welfare organizations, will ban the production and sale in the state of eggs from hens and meat from pigs and calves kept in tight enclosures.

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That means all eggs sold in Massachusetts will have to be from cage-free hens. Backers, like the Humane Society of the United States, say it is a modest change to simply ensure animals can stand up, lie down, turn around, and spread their wings.

Opponents argued that it will sharply raise food prices which will have an outsize impact on the state’s poorest residents.

Have voters in other states implemented restrictions like that on the welfare of farm animals?

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Yes. Several other states have outlawed certain farming practices, but no ballot question has attempted to ban the sale of meat and eggs from animals raised in a certain way, according to specialists in the field.

How much might the price of eggs go up?

There’s no way to know because it won’t be implemented until 2022. But proponents say to perhaps expect an increase of 1 cent an egg – 12 cents per dozen. Opponents say prices could skyrocket 80 cents or more per dozen.

What do the authors of this question say is wrong with the way most egg-laying hens are currently kept?

They say it’s cruel that most laying hens are currently housed in cages in which each bird has less space than a piece of printer paper, too tight to spread even its wings. The egg industry says the birds are perfectly fine in small cages.

Joshua Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jm_bos and subscribe to his weekday e-mail update on politics at bostonglobe.com/politicalhappyhour
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