Diane Sullivan from Boston, Mass., remembers a time when she had to dig through the couch cushions just to scrape up enough change to buy bread or eggs to feed her family. It was a humbling, embarrassing time for this remarkable woman, who spoke to producers at this year’s Pork Industry Forum. Sullivan has been an active anti-poverty advocate for 15 years, and because of her personal experiences, she knows the importance of food costs to low-income families.
She worked diligently on behalf of the pork industry to defeat Question 3 in Massachusetts, which asked voters to eliminate gestation crates for sows and cages for chickens. Analysts projected the passage of Question 3 would raise basic food costs by nearly $250 million. That number sounds large, but the human cost on a personal basis for those who can’t afford food is even greater.
“I can never go back in time to save myself from the humility and indignity of homelessness, but I can help others,” Sullivan said. “When we try to solve problems sometimes, there are unintended consequences, and almost always the poor are the ones who suffer the most, because they don’t have a voice.”
She said that less than a year ago, she didn’t know who or what the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) was.
“I didn’t know that they will disparage almost anyone to get what they want. I had no idea how indifferent the food police are,” she said. “HSUS has a very clever political agenda, and they are in it for the long haul.
Sullivan believes Question 3 (which ultimately passed) is a regressive food tax, hitting primarily the poor.
“This is the very definition of social injustice,” she said. “My own experience drives me in this fight. We must be more united and assertive – we must have the voice of those who suffer most.”