Editorial: Not everyone a fan of state’s animal confinement law

Monday, December 18, 2017

Here are some brief thoughts on some of the events making news from around Franklin County and the North Quabbin area:

Perhaps predictably, well-meaning Massachusetts voters have gotten their state sued by 13 other states — in the Supreme Court no less.

Led by Indiana, these states are suing Massachusetts over its new law restricting confinement of laying hens, pigs and calves. The law, which resulted from a 2016 ballot initiative led by the Humane Society of the United States that passed by 78-22 percent, violates the Interstate Commerce Clause of the Constitution, the other farm states argue.

That’s because the Massachusetts law tries to regulate the farm conditions of not just our state, but also the states that export meat and eggs into the state. The law, when fully enacted in 2022, would prohibit any state farms from confining egg-laying hens in a way that prevents them from “lying down, standing up, fully extending their limbs, or turning around freely.” Similar rules would apply to pigs or calves raised for veal.

Guess this will be hashed out in the land’s highest court.

Merry Christmas

Just what Christmas is about: thoughtful thankfulness.

Pam Reipold, co-owner of F.M. Kuzmeskus and Travel Kuz bus companies, sent Santa Claus to Montague, Northfield and Bernardston DPWs Wednesday to deliver gift bags of candy and baked goods made by the bus drivers and other Kuzmeskus staff.

“It’s one little way we can say ‘thank you’ to all of the fine people who take such good care of the roads we travel on each day,” Reipold said. “We are super fortunate to have such a great relationship with our road crews. They do a super job and we really do appreciate them.”

Bright idea

The 53-year-old Mount Toby Friends meetinghouse in Leverett is going solar.

The local Quakers are acting on their concern about global climate change by investing in solar panels and related renewable energy equipment to eliminate an average of 980 gallons of oil to heat the building each year.

“The committee was formed over concern about the climate change that’s going on and sensing that we need to take some responsibility, individually and as an organization, to do what we can,” said committee member Alan Eccleston.

Better still, the Quakers hope to make the estimated $4,000 savings in electricity and heating costs available to others who also want to cut their use of fossil fuels and electricity.

Heartfelt loss

We don’t doubt that many farmers, gardeners and pet owners of northern Franklin County are going to miss the classic, down-home service at Bernardston Farmers Supply, which is closing Dec. 30.

Manager Vicki L’Abbee, whose family has owned the business since 1995, and her staff have always run the place like something out of a Rockwell painting: Dogs and children on premise, always a smile on staffers willing to help carry those 35-pound bags of dog food to the trunk of the car.

Breakfast boosters

If breakfast is indeed the most important meal of the day, then Athol-Royalston Middle School and the state should be commended for helping provide that extra boost for students in a hurry.

A “Grab & Go Breakfast” program, begun this year with state funding and help from the Project Bread nonprofit, is helping more students get a quick nutritional fix at the start of their day in the form of foods like applesauce, milk and a Nutri-Grain bar.

Four portable kiosks are dispatched throughout the school each morning where students grab the food, which they can eat in or on their way to class.

The school’s more formal breakfast program reached about a quarter of students, but Grab & Go Breakfast reaches 64 percent, from 97 students to 250.

Healthy progress.