Ben & Jerry’s and Migrant Justice have reached an agreement to implement the worker-driven Milk with Dignity Program. Under the agreement, “work will begin this fall on a multi-year plan with the goal of eventually sourcing 100 percent of Ben & Jerry’s milk through the Milk With Dignity Program and a holistic dairy program that addresses all key aspects of dairy farming,” according to the ice cream company.
In April 2015, Ben & Jerry’s publicly committed to source its milk in compliance with Vermont dairy workers’ human rights by joining the Milk with Dignity Program, a worker-led initiative modeled after the Coalition of Immokalee Workers world-renowned Fair Food Program. Migrant Justice, a human rights and economic justice organization has spearheaded the Milk With Dignity program. However, after committing to the program, Ben & Jerry’s delayed officially signing on.
In response to Ben & Jerry’s long delay, Migrant Justice went on a ten-city “Human Rights Cannot Wait Tour.” The tour, which stopped in Providence last month, was building support for a national day of action on October 5th that would have seen protests and actions outside Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shops across the United States. That action is not happening now that the company has signed onto the agreement.
“This is an historic moment for dairy workers. We have worked tirelessly to get here, and now we move forward towards a new day for the industry,” said Migrant Justice spokesperson Enrique Balcazar. “We appreciate Ben & Jerry’s leadership role and look forward to working together to implement a program that ensures dignified housing and fair working conditions on dairy farms across the region. And though this is the first, it won’t be the last agreement of its kind.”
“This is a ground breaking, historic moment not only for two organizations, but most importantly for the hard working dairy farm workers who are a critical part of our community,” said Ben & Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim. “Vermont’s farmers can continue to set the tone for the dairy industry. Today, whether it is for animal care, environmentally sound operations, and now, enhanced labor practices, Vermont’s farming community will continue to lead the nation.”
For Migrant Justice, this is just the beginning. As the program is rolled out on the farms in Ben & Jerry’s supply chain, Migrant Justice will be preparing to expand Milk with Dignity to other companies.