Last week opponents of Question 3, which would bar the extreme confinement of farm animals and the sale of meat and eggs produced under those conditions, registered themselves as a ballot committee under the name “Citizens Against Food Tax Injustice.”
This is the same group that earlier this year challenged the Attorney General’s decision to allow Question 3 to appear on the November ballot. By way of a spokesperson whom they describe as an anti-poverty activist and a recipient of food stamps, they offer a populist take on the evils of Question 3; it’s “a food tax that seeks to steal affordable food choices that most of us make, causing undue harm to the hundreds of thousands of residents in the Commonwealth who already struggle to feed themselves and their families.”
I’ll let the proponents and opponents of Question 3 fight it out over the effect that Question 3 would actually have on egg prices – I’m more interested in the bona fides of the group’s professed anti-poverty motives.
Of the $75,100 in the ballot committee’s treasury, $75,000 of it comes from Forrest Lucas, the Chairman of Lucas Oil (as in Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Indianapolis Colts play) and the deep pocket for “Protect the Harvest,” a non-profit created to defend agribusiness against what it calls a “food elitist movement” advocating for regulations that will increase production costs. (Mr. Lucas is also rumored to be a front runner for the position of Secretary of the Interior in a Trump administration, which is seeking a cabinet that is more “business-friendly” than the current one.)
Other evidence tending to disprove the so-called egalitarian sympathies of Citizens Against Food Tax Injustice:
One of the lawyers in the legal challenge that the group brought against Question 3 is Jon Bruning, a former Nebraska Attorney General who generated some controversy in his unsuccessful campaign for a U.S. Senate seat from that state a few years ago by comparing welfare recipients to raccoons, thusly: raccoons are “not stupid, they’re gonna do the easy way if we make it easy for them. Just like welfare recipients all across America. If we don’t send them to work, they’re gonna take the easy route.”
The Northeast Agribusiness and Feed Alliance, another Question 3 opponent, made sure that its annual meeting in Albany this summer included a trip to the State Capital to register protests to proposals to increase that state’s minimum wage.
Question 3 opponent National Pork Producers Council lists among its recent victories a labor ruling that shortens the rest break time that employers must afford to the livestock truck drivers who work for them.
I think we get it. Citizens Against Food Tax Injustice wants consumers to be able to afford the food its business interests produce. Despite its choice of a spokesperson with a commendable background in fighting poverty, it’s no more of an “anti-poverty” concern than Walmart is. No on no on 3.