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There’s Nothing Fair About Fair Trade USA’s “Fair Trade Dairy”

Author: Anna Canning, Fair World Project, Published on: 21 August 2019

30 July 2019

Fair Trade USA has rolled out plans to pilot a fair trade dairy standard with Chobani on farms in New York State and Idaho. While there are numerous challenges facing the U.S. dairy industry, we believe that fair trade certification is the wrong solution, and that Fair Trade USA is the wrong organization to lead such a program. Fair Trade USA’s approach is particularly misguided because, in this situation, better solutions exist.  Thanks to a constitutional case brought by the Workers’ Center of Central New York and the Worker Justice Center of New York, farm and dairy workers in New York have won an historic victory enshrining the right to organize in state law. The Milk with Dignity program offers an enforceable, worker-driven approach to protecting workers’ rights in the dairy industry. If Chobani wants to get serious about protecting workers, they have models to follow, and organized workers’ groups to partner with…

...Worker-led solutions exist—and they are working. One of the recommendations of the Milked report was to create “a worker-driven and independently monitored social responsibility program for New York dairy farms,” including legally binding commitments for purchasers and third-party monitoring of standards set by worker organizations with “a mechanism for the monitoring body to enforce the resolution of complaints raised by workers.” The report cites the examples of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food Program and Migrant Justice’s Milk with Dignity program that emerged from worker organizing as successful Worker-Led Social Responsibility programs that are improving conditions for workers in their respective industries...

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