By Lucy Kim
On Monday, October 31, Newton South held the third debate focusing on expanding cage-free farms, the third question of this year’s four statewide ballot questions.
Senior Troy Manditch argued for maintaining the already caged farms, while junior Hannah Phan argued for cage-free farms.
As all debates, both participants disregarded their personal opinions on the matter and presented just the perspective and reasoning for their appointed side.
Manditch started the debate by presenting his strongest point; requiring larger cages will result in either increased costs for consumers or reducing pay of workers.
“For the average South student, this won’t affect them, but for poor families who spend a higher percentage of their income on food, it will be an unnecessary tax,” Manditch said.
Manditch continued by stating that though he believes that caging chickens, in specific, is inhumane, a yes vote for this ballot question will lead to unintended consequences.
“Estimates have predicted that it will raise the cost of eggs by approximately by at least $50 a year,” Manditch said. “This may not be that much to most people, but for poor people who are already living paycheck to paycheck and do not have the extra funds, this will be an unnecessary burden.”
This law prevents Massachusetts’s lower income families to pay for healthy and nutrient rich food that they previously could afford.
Countering Manditch’s arguments, Phan proceeded by stating that all farms except one in Massachusetts have already agreed to go cage-free with their chickens, and therefore, a yes vote on this ballot question will not negatively impact anyone.
“Stephanie Harris, the head of the Massachusetts Humane Society, explained that there is only one farm in Massachusetts that has refused to comply with the overwhelming majority of the farmers,” Phan said. “So the shift is not really going to be that significant because the majority, in fact, all farms in Massachusetts except one farm is actually complying with these rules.”
Moreover, Phan mentioned that realistically, this initiative will not cause a major price increase; the price of eggs will only increase by one to two cents per egg.
However, any price increase is substantial and thus, Manditch concluded by, once again, stressing the importance of the no vote for the poorer families whose lives depend on affordable, staple food.
Phan ended her debate by arguing that “the only reason why you see that these companies and people don’t want cage-free farms is because they are all being controlled by the big, agribusiness lobbyist that want to maximize their profit.”
These large agribusiness corporations use their funds to prevent the passage of legislation like this initiative because this law will hurt their bottom line.
“The big agribusiness willingly trades off humane conditions for farm animals in exchange of maximizing their profit and filling their pockets,” Phan said.
At the debate’s conclusion, the audience held a mock-vote and 100% of the audience agreed with Phan and voted yes for cage-free farms.
The last debate will take place on Monday, November 7, and it will focus on the last ballot question, the legalization of marijuana.