Ben & Jerry’s and Vermont dairy farm workers have signed an agreement for the Vermont-based global ice cream company to implement the Milk With Dignity Program.

Ben & Jerry’s CEO Jostein Solheim and Migrant Justice members signed the agreement outside the company’s scoop shop in Burlington Tuesday.

Ben & Jerry’s is the first company to implement the program. Solheim says eventually 100% of the company’s milk will be sourced from farmers enrolled in the program.

First, he’s focusing on the northeast supply chain which is more than 80% sourced in Vermont.

“It’s not a program that comes in and tells the farmer ‘you have to do this right now like this’,” said Solheim. “It’s a collaborative process of arriving at the best outcome for the worker and the farmer.”

Farmers who participate are paid in order to offset the cost of complying with the program. Solheim says it will not affect ice cream prices.

Participating farmers must agree to:

  • Compliance with the program’s code of conduct, including adequate breaks, time off, paid sick days, humane and safe staffing and working conditions, and fair housing.

  • A wage increase supported by premiums paid

  • Worker-to-worker education conducted on the farms by Migrant Justice

  • Workers’ unfettered access to a complaint mechanism

  • Milk With Dignity Standards Council access to its workforce to investigate complaints, conduct Code compliance audits, and monitor implementation of corrective action plans.

“Ben and Jerry’s and dairy workers are coming together to ensure human rights for dairy farm workers and the company supply chain. This is what we’re calling a new day in Dairy,” said Enrique Balcazar, a Migrant Justice organizer and former dairy worker, through a translator.

Migrant Justice held several rallies and made thousands of phone calls over the last two years to get this agreement signed.