(Image via aldf.org)
Staff Writer: Maya Arruda
It’s the year 2023. The economy is on the brink of death, and the unfortunate working class is trapped within a late-stage capitalism hellscape.
The wealth gap increases exponentially at an inversely proportional rate to the average person’s will to live.
Inflation runs rampant while wages stay the same as billionaires sip sparkling spring water infused with the tears of the proletariat.
As a college student, you’re hit harder than most. Not only do you have to pay thousands of dollars in tuition and are currently in debt with no relief, but you also have to budget for groceries with rapidly increasing prices. You brave the outside world to venture forth to the local supermarket…
Only to find something so distressing it makes you wish you never got up today. The price of pork has skyrocketed!
Yet another victim of this cruel world. First, it was eggs, now pork. What will be next? Will milk end up costing the same as a mortgage in the 50s!?
You feel a wave of soul-crushing despair overtake you.
However, there is more to the story of the rapidly increasing price gouge of pork products. Inflation isn’t the only factor in play here. Part of the price increase is due to a new law.
The Happy Pig Law came into effect in the latter half of 2023. The “Happy Pig Law,” a.k.a the “Pig Welfare Law,” a.k.a Chapter 333 of Massachusetts legislature, was passed into law by state voters in 2016.
Chapter 333 states that all pork sold in the state must be from pigs in enclosures where the pigs have enough room to lie down and move around a bit.
Tight enclosures increase the chance of animal pathogens spreading, some of which can infect humans (I’m looking at you, Bird Flu). They also negatively impact the animals’ physical and mental well-being.
Despite the pig-centered names of this law, it also applies to chickens and cows.
This law, with as many names as Esteban from Suite Life, was initially supposed to take effect in 2022; however, the implementation of the law was postponed due to a Supreme Court ruling over a similar piece of legislature in California.
Of course, being the salty capitalist bloodsuckers they are, certain pork producers have decided to force massive price increases in retaliation.
To be fair, some of the cost is the result of having to change infrastructure and buy new enclosures for the pigs and is reflective of how more space is now required for the same amount of pigs, which will reduce the overall production of pork rearing facilities. These newfound constraints can damage locally owned meat sellers who may not be able to profit under these circumstances.
But on the other hand, this law is detrimental to large pork producers that are not locally owned. It’s hard to sympathize with a corporation, especially when the consumer will ultimately end up paying the price.
By contrast, small, local pig farms are relatively unaffected by this law.
Karen Schwalbe, a Massachusetts Farm Bureau Federation leader, declared that confined cages are “a production agriculture practice.”
“It’s not used by small-scale farmers like we have in Massachusetts,” Schwalbe elaborated. “Massachusetts farmers take good care of their animals.”
While it’s good to know that this legislation won’t harm small farms, small business owners and consumers will be feeling the hurt from the increased cost of pork on the market. Local restaurants with pig on the menu, like Cask and Pig, have already been raising the prices of their pork dishes to cope with the cost.
The newfound price of pork may crimp the budget, but one needs to consider the ethics involved in the situation. I’ll admit it’s hard to care about some little pig out there when you break the bank trying to buy bacon.
Yet, the conditions these animals are subjected to for what ultimately amounts to human convenience are staggeringly cruel. Should any animal, even a pig, be forced to stay in place all the time, unable to move freely? Only to be fattened, killed, and in someone’s gullet.
At least let them roam around before their inevitable demise.
If you’ve been here long enough, you’ve probably heard someone say there is no ethical consumption under capitalism, most likely somewhere in LARTS. That phrase pretty aptly summarizes the situation here.
Agricultural pigs should be raised in a non-harmful environment, but the increase in cost hurts consumers who have already been suffering from the economy.
Let’s be honest. The people saying “Yes, absolutely, we must save the animals at all costs” aren’t the types of people who regularly buy meat or animal products.
Produce and meat are already costly, and healthy food is often the priceiest in the supermarket. If you’re struggling to feed your family and pay your rent on a minimum-wage job, the last thing you will care about is the welfare of a slaughtered hog.
The Happy Pig Law can protect the animals but can do nothing to protect the consumer. More legislation must be introduced so that eating ethically does not equal eating insufficiently, especially for those living under the poverty line.