Ben & Jerry’s fosters best practices in dairy

BURLINGTON — Ben & Jerry’s last month 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 that 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.
“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,” said Dave Rapaport, Ben & Jerry’s Global Social Mission Officer. “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 early last month. “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. 

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