Ben & Jerry's ice cream factory in Waterbury, Vermont Ben & Jerry's

Ben & Jerry’s agrees to higher farm labor standards

Vermont ice cream maker teams with Migrant Justice to source its milk in a way that improves working and housing conditions on dairy farms.

Ben & Jerry’s and Migrant Justice have reached an agreement to implement the worker-driven Milk with Dignity (MD) Program in Ben & Jerry’s Northeast dairy supply chain. Over the past two years, the parties have worked to accomplish their historic shared goal to bring together farm workers, farmers and dairy buyers to ensure just and dignified working conditions in Ben & Jerry’s Northeast dairy supply chain.

Work will begin this fall on a multiyear plan with the goal of eventually sourcing 100% of Ben & Jerry’s milk through the MD Program and a holistic dairy program that addresses all key aspects of dairy farming.

Migrant Justice’s MD Program, modeled after the world-renowned Fair Food Program, enlists the resources of food industry leaders, such as Ben & Jerry’s, to provide a premium for dairy ingredients to participating farmers who agree to work towards compliance with the labor standards in the Milk with Dignity Code of Conduct.

The premium paid to farmers helps offset farms’ costs of compliance with the code, rewards farms that comply and allows farmers to pass through a portion of the premium as a bonus paid to workers. In the MD Program, compliance on the farm is achieved through a unique partnership and problem-solving approach among farmers, farm workers and the Milk with Dignity Standards Council. The council is an independent nonprofit that works with farmers and farm workers to understand, participate in and achieve compliance with labor standards in the code.

The plan now is to put the buyer’s agreement into practice by recruiting farmers from St. Albans Cooperative to join the program as soon as possible. Ben & Jerry’s has committed to working towards the goal of sourcing 100% of its dairy ingredients through the MD Program over a period of years. Moving forward, The MD Program will be one of the focused “pillars” of Ben & Jerry’s new dairy sourcing to address the full farm ecosystem.

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