Will Fair Trade Milk Loosen the Squeeze on US Dairy Workers?

US grocery store milk aisle selling a variety of dairy products
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

openDemocracy published an opinion piece by MSI Integrity’s Amelia Evans and Teddy Ostrow on Thursday. The piece, titled “Fair Trade milk could be bad for US dairy workers’ health,” outlines the structural issues with the voluntary certification model adopted many multi-stakeholder initiatives, like Fair Trade USA, which has expanded its renowned labeling system into the US dairy industry.

Evans and Ostrow also briefly detail what a better system for upholding workers’ rights in the sector might look like, pointing to Migrant Justice’s Milk With Dignity, a worker-driven social responsibility program.

Evans and Ostrow conclude:

Fair Trade USA’s expansion into dairy will only risk consumer confusion and the undermining of a more robust and worker-friendly system. Power-shifting solutions are needed; ones that get to the root issues of our food – and, frankly, the entire economic – system. Glossy labels can’t relieve the pressure on workers lower down in supply chains. Only when workers and communities have meaningful power will the inequality and abuse that characterise the US dairy industry come to an end.

Read the full piece here, and for a more comprehensive analysis of Fair Trade USA’s expansion into US dairy, see Fair World Project’s report, Label Before Labor: Fair Trade USA’s Dairy Label Fails Workers.

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