Ben & Jerry's and Vermont dairy farmworkers have come to an agreement on a program they say will ensure "just and dignified working conditions" on the Vermont farms that supply milk for the ice cream company.
Representatives from the Vermont farmworker advocacy group Migrant Justice and Ben & Jerry's CEO Jostein Solheim came together Tuesday in front of Ben & Jerry's Burlington ice cream shop to sign the agreement.
"This is the first expansion that we've seen from the model of worker-driven social responsibly that was pioneered by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in the Florida tomato fields," says Enrique Balcazar of Migrant Justice. "It is a great victory and an honor for us dairy workers to expand that model to the dairy industry of Vermont."
Migrant Justice has been negotiating with the ice cream company for two years to create this worker-led initiative. The organization plans to begin immediately recruiting dairy farmers who supply Ben & Jerry's to join the the Milk with Dignity program, with a goal of eventually sourcing all of the ice cream company's milk through the program.
Both negotiation parties decided to keep the final agreement private. However, Solheim says that as part of the initiative, Ben & Jerry's has committed to pay dairy farmers who join Milk with Dignity a higher price to support wages and safe working conditions.