The movement to end the era of intensive confinement of animals in agriculture is flourishing through so many channels. Earlier today, I announced that Michael Foods has become the latest major producer to see that the future is cage-free. In recent months, The HSUS has also made a dozen major announcements with major food retailers, from McDonald’s to Starbucks to Panera Bread to Taco Bell, all pledging to go cage free. Now, I am happy to announce yet another critical milestone in our public policy efforts to challenge factory farming.

This afternoon, the Citizens for Farm Animal Protection coalition turned in more than 133,000 signatures to the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This moves the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act a giant leap closer to the 2016 ballot in the Bay State. The measure would prohibit the confinement of egg-laying henspigs used for breeding, and calves raised for veal in cages or crates so small that they’re rendered virtually immobile. It would also require that eggs, pork, and veal sold in Massachusetts meet this same modest standard.

Gathering so many signatures in a short 66 days is a very rare feat, and it happened thanks to the spadework and footwork of more than a thousand volunteers. Compassionate advocates took time off work or spent their weekends collecting signatures in their communities, where they were greeted by voters enthusiastic to prevent cruelty to farm animals. I celebrate their spirit of determination and volunteerism.

This coalition is bolstered by an array of organizations, including The HSUS, the MSPCA, the ASPCA, Animal Rescue League of Boston, Zoo New England, Berkshire Humane Society, Farm Sanctuary, Compassion in World Farming, The Humane League, Animal Equality, Compassion Over Killing, Mercy for Animals, and others. There are plenty of other endorsers not part of the established animal welfare community, including the United Farm Workers, the Center for Food Safety, Real Food Challenge, and hundreds of Massachusetts veterinarians, religious leaders, and more than 100 family farmers. Their voices are critical in the broader effort to remind Massachusetts voters that this measure is in the best interest of not only animals but of public health, the environment, workers, and the agricultural sector.