November 23, 2021 Yesterday, 7,739 organic consumers and farmers submitted a complaint to B Lab (administer of the B Corporation corporate social value certification program) against Danone North America, owner of Horizon Organic. The complaint outlines violations the company has made against the B Corp Declaration of Interdependence. These farmers and consumers are members and supporters of the eleven organizations that submitted a complaint earlier this month against Danone N.A./Horizon. This is the first batch of signatures that will be submitted to B Lab. Supporters can still sign on to the complaint here.
In August 2021, Danone North America notified all their contracted organic dairy farm families totaling 89 families in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and a portion of New York they would be ending their contracts and pulling out of the Northeast U.S. supply chain to redirect their supply chain around their processing facility near Buffalo, NY. Many of the affected farm families have provided organic milk to Horizon Organic for decades and have been instrumental in building that successful brand with grass-fed family-farm organic milk.
“The family farmers losing their contracts with Horizon Organic are struggling to figure out how to save their farms and homes in a time when there are few other organic dairy market opportunities, and we are still in a pandemic. Nationally we have never experienced such a large number of contracts ended at once from a single organic dairy company, “says Nicole Dehne, Certification Director for Vermont Organic Farmers. “In Vermont, organic dairy is 28% of our state’s dairy economy and these farmers are incredibly important to our food supply as well as our rural economies. The organic community asks B Lab to take action.”
The northeast region embodies the family-scale, grass-based, organic dairy farms, organic consumers expect to be supplying their milk. “NOFA-NY has worked with Horizon Organic for decades and many of our farmers have supplied Horizon milk for the duration of that time. We want Danone to value the whole northeast region, invest here, and create a future for northeast organic dairy farmers. New York has one of the largest consumer markets, and you can see by the number of people who care about this, local organic dairy is important to northeast consumers,” says Katie Baildon, Policy Director, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York.
B Corporations have made a commitment to work towards reducing inequality, lowering poverty, creating a healthier environment, building stronger communities, and creating more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose. The B Corp label tells consumers that the company has created a positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment. Danone North America’s action in the Northeast goes against all of these principles, and B Lab must take action, or the B Corp label is in jeopardy of losing its integrity. Regional producer groups representing the affected farmers met with Danone North America last week to ask them to stay in the Northeast and invest in the region’s organic dairy farm families. We hope B Lab will help them make the right decision.