BURLINGTON, Vt. — Ben & Jerry’s has convened a new Dairy Advisory Council comprised of experts in environmental health, the animal protection movement, Lake Champlain water quality, and organic farming to help the company achieve its newly refined Values-Led Dairy Vision.
The company’s vision is that all dairy used by Ben & Jerry’s in the manufacture of its products will be sourced from dairy farms which have:
- thriving and dignified livelihoods for farmers and farm workers;
- exceptional animal welfare standards for cows;
- a flourishing ecosystem in which feed is grown ecologically, without use of harmful chemicals or GMOs, and in a way that protects water resources and promotes biological diversity; and,
- farm operations acting as a net carbon sink through minimizing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon in the soil.
“Our Values-led Dairy Vision is based on what our fans have a right to expect of us,” said Dave Rapaport, Ben & Jerry’s Global Social Mission Officer. “While we’re proud of the progress we’ve made over the past decade in helping farmers build soil health, improve animal welfare and increase the sustainability of their farms through our industry-leading Caring Dairy program, we know there is still a long way to go in achieving our vision. This new, independent council will provide ideas and advice as we develop a long-term roadmap for our goals, with objectives and milestones along the way.”
Each member of the Dairy Advisory Council has been chosen for his or her expertise in a certain field, and has been encouraged to challenge Ben & Jerry’s assumptions and approach. The Council members are:
- Dorn Cox, organic farmer and Research Director of Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture and the Environment
- Heather Darby, UVM Extension Professor and Agronomy Specialist
- Scott Faber, environmental advocate
- Sarah Flack, grass-based livestock production consultant
- Leah Garces, President of Mercy for Animals
- Gary Kjelleren, Chair of the Lake Champlain Committee
The Council’s first meeting was held earlier this week. “We expect this knowledgeable group of external stakeholders will keep us focused on our commitments and help us hold ourselves accountable,” said Ben & Jerry’s Values-Led Sourcing Manager, Cheryl Pinto. “We’re proud of the work Vermont dairy farmers have done with Ben & Jerry’s, and we know we have a long way to go to achieve our vision. Dairy farmers are facing increasingly complex issues and we recognize the need for the Council’s advice and insight in helping us build a program which brings about beneficial outcomes for all.”
Ben & Jerry’s sources most of the milk and cream for North America from members of the St. Albans Cooperative. In 2011 the company initiated its Caring Dairy program to support family farms in sustainable agricultural practices, high-quality animal care and dignified conditions for farm workers. In 2017 the company reached an historic agreement to implement the worker-driven Milk with Dignity program, alongside Caring Dairy, to assure farm worker rights.
About Ben & Jerry’s
As an aspiring social justice company, Ben & Jerry’s believes in a greater calling than simply making a profit for selling its goods. The company produces a wide variety of super-premium ice cream, yogurt and sorbet using high-quality ingredients. Ben & Jerry’s incorporates its vision of Linked Prosperity into its business practices in a number of ways including a focus on values-led sourcing. In 2015 the company completed its transition to using entirely non-GMO (genetically modified organisms) ingredients by source as well as to fully source Fairtrade-certified ingredients wherever possible, which benefits farmers in developing countries. Ben and Jerry’s products are distributed in 35 countries in supermarkets, grocery stores, convenience stores, franchise Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shops, restaurants and other venues. Ben & Jerry’s, a Vermont corporation and wholly-owned subsidiary of Unilever, operates its business on a three-part Mission Statement emphasizing product quality, economic reward and a commitment to the community. Ben & Jerry’s became a certified B Corp (Benefit Corporation) in 2012. The Ben & Jerry’s Foundation’s employee-led grant programs totaled $2.7MM in 2018 to support grassroots organizing for social and environmental justice around the country.