Fair Trade USA’s Dairy Label Fails Workers

Label before Labor.

Fair Trade USA released a new “Fair Trade Dairy” label in partnership with Chobani. It’s a program that has been opposed by farmworker and human rights organizations since it was first announced. Now that there is yogurt on the shelf, but still no final standard released, this report looks at the label claims and evaluates “Fair Trade Dairy” based on the available standards.

The critique focuses on three key areas:

  • Inadequate standards development process
  • Standards that are not fit for purpose
  • Lack of enforcement mechanisms

Finally, the report also reviews the rising tide of research that shows that corporate-developed and led certifications are inadequate and points instead to existing models that are better suited to defending workers’ rights and safety. Organized workers are pushing policy changes across the country, improving wages and winning vital workplace protections. And Worker-driven Social Responsibility programs are building power and supporting workers defending their rights and addressing the fundamental power imbalances in the food system.

The report concludes that: “Corporate consolidation, trade policy, and other macro trends are squeezing farmers and workers in the dairy industry. To address the forces at work requires addressing the imbalance of power head on. If we are to envision a world where those at the top of supply chains are held accountable, we must support programs that are transformative. Instead of reinforcing existing systems of power, we should look to the leadership of those who have been protesting, leading, and advocating for their own communities for hundreds of years.”

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