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Hannaford Criticizes Vermont's Milk With Dignity Campaign

Regional grocer releases statement regarding rights for migrant dairy workers
Marian Zboraj, Progressive Grocer
Dairy Worker
Hannaford believes meaningful and impactful support of farmworkers requires a long-term, sustainable solution.

Hannaford Supermarkets is pushing back against the Milk with Dignity campaign, a movement of farmworkers and allies calling on dairy companies to ensure respect for human rights in their supply chains. 

The Milk with Dignity Program was created by Migrant Justice, a nonprofit farmworker-driven human rights organization based in Burlington, Vt. The program requires supplier farms to comply with the MD Code of ConductThe Milk with Dignity program is currently fully operational in South Burlington, Vt.-based Ben & Jerry's northeast dairy supply chain, covering 100% of the company's dairy volume. Migrant Justice is also in discussion about implementing the program with several other major dairy brands.  

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However, Hannaford doesn’t agree with Migrant Justice’s approach in securing the rights of dairy workers. In a statement released by the supermarket chain regarding the Milk with Dignity campaign, the company said: “Hannaford knows that farm workers are the backbone of our food systems. We strongly support the fair, safe and humane treatment of agricultural workers, and are dedicated to ensuring that the products in our supply chain are ethically and sustainably sourced from suppliers that adhere to all labor laws. … However, we differ with Migrant Justice in our approach to the solution. The concerns and issues facing agricultural workers are systemic, complex and extend far beyond Hannaford’s supply chain and the state of Vermont. The Milk with Dignity program is focused on a very small portion of the U.S. dairy supply chain, both in terms of its geographic footprint as well as the number of stakeholders involved. Because of the complexity and scope of the issues facing migrant farm workers, we do not feel this approach is scalable. Nor do we feel that these issues can be solved with a patchwork of loosely affiliated programs like Milk with Dignity working independently.”

Instead, Hannaford believes that impactful, lasting change is best affected at scale across the industry – not on a state-by-state, commodity-by-commodity or company-by-company basis – and in partnership with credible external auditing organizations.

“As such, we are currently engaged in partnerships that help advance our human rights commitments across our supply chain, including the use of second- and third-party auditing tools to validate findings,” read Hannaford’s statement. “Moving forward, we will continue to deepen our collaboration and engagement with industry and supply chain partners to drive meaningful change. We believe this is the most reliable and sustainable way to create lasting impact on human rights while safeguarding the dignity and well-being of farmworkers.”

Hannaford has been actively engaged with its dairy supply chain for years, partnering with milk suppliers, the National Milk Producers Federation and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy to both assess and assure compliance and responsible farm management across its private-brand dairy supply chain. The company has implemented the National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) tool, a comprehensive program to support farmers in building safe work environments, which is currently being used by more than 3,000 farms across the country.

The grocer also requires its private label suppliers to deploy the FARM assessment and the FARM Workforce Development Evaluation Tool, which includes modules on environmental practices, animal welfare housing and workforce conditions. Using the tool, Hannaford’s suppliers have assessed working conditions at 70 of its private label milk suppliers across the company’s marketplace. While this work is ongoing, to date these assessments have covered more than 500 farm workers.

Additionally, an independent third-party auditor has been identified and is being onboarded for the purpose of confirming that the second-party FARM assessments accurately reflect working conditions on farms.

Scarborough, Maine-based Hannaford operates more than 180 stores in Maine, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, and employs nearly 30,000 associates. Parent company Ahold Delhaize USA, a division of Zaandam, Netherlands-based Ahold Delhaize, is No. 10 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2023 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.

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