In October, we celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Milk with Dignity program. Five years have passed since we declared, at the historic signing of the first Milk with Dignity agreement, a “new day for human rights in the dairy industry.” And in those years, our achievements have surpassed the dreams of the farmworkers who conceived of and built Milk with Dignity.
The program has won unprecedented improvements in labor and housing conditions for hundreds of dairy workers and has secured protections for a workforce previously bereft of enforceable rights. Milk with Dignity has invested over $3.4 million in farmworker pay and benefits, and the worker-driven program has transformed the nature of work on dairy farms.
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Despite these incredible achievements, our work is far from done. Milk with Dignity is protecting the rights of hundreds of farmworkers, but many others are still left out. That’s why we are fighting hard to expose abuses on farms outside the program and push companies to do the right thing, starting with grocery chain Hannaford Supermarket.
Ervin, who lives on a Milk with Dignity farm with his wife and daughter, spoke about his hopes for the future:
“We are achieving great things: dignified housing, a living wage, improvements in all areas of work. My message to dairy companies is that they pay attention to what’s happening here and join the program. If you do, there will be many more farms under Milk with Dignity and many more workers who get the benefits that we have now. We will see the fruits of the seeds we have planted today.”