International Development, Community and Environment (IDCE)

Date of Award


Degree Type

Research Paper

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy (ES&P)


International Development, Community and Environment

Chief Instructor

Jody Emel


In the 2016 Massachusetts primary election, ballot question #3, “Massachusetts Minimum Size Requirements for Farm Animal Containment”, aimed to improve welfare standards for cows raised for veal, female sows confined to gestation crates, and chickens caged for eggs. This study seeks to analyze the complex relationship between local and national food systems, and articulate the multi-level implications of Question 3. Research examines the rationale behind voting, campaign narratives, and campaign financing in Massachusetts, and ultimately compares the implications of Question 3 with those of California’s 2008 Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act. The lenses of animal geographies and the political ecology of animal welfare inform the underlying perspectives of stakeholders and their valuation of animal life, which contributed considerably to the policy decisions. This paper concludes by identifying lessons for other states, future changes for MA food policy, and the importance of addressing gaps in food systems knowledge.



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