Darigold Responds to New York Times Story

On December 28, the New York Times published a story on migrant child labor across the nation’s food supply system, including an allegation that a 17-year-old migrant employee was injured while working on a Northwest Dairy Association (NDA) member farm that supplies milk to Darigold.

In response to that article, NDA Senior Vice President Monty Schilter offered the following comment:

We take issues such as these very seriously and were surprised and troubled to learn of allegations of this kind at any of our member farms. As alleged, these actions are in no way consistent with our values or the Standards and Guiding Principles to which our members agree to adhere.

It is important to note that Darigold does not own or operate any farms. Northwest Dairy Association (NDA) is a farmer-owned cooperative that owns and supplies milk to Darigold, which is the marketing and processing arm of NDA. Darigold and NDA are, and will continue to comply with all federal, state, and local laws and regulations, including but not limited to those related to child labor.

NDA engages an expert third party APSCA certified labor audit firm to conduct on-farm labor audits and has not seen any evidence to date to support these allegations. If ever NDA member farms are found to be out of compliance with NDA standards, they are subject to time-bound corrective plans and may face disciplinary action up to and including expulsion from the co-op.

We have identified the farm where this alleged infraction occurred and are working with the farm owner and his team to take appropriate corrective actions. What’s more, with audits already scheduled for farms in Eastern Washington, including Yakima Valley in the coming days and weeks, we are modifying the procedure to include interviews with farm workers from each shift and actively engaging with organizations from elsewhere in the food supply chain that have dealt with similar issues to benefit from the experience of others on this important issue.

We remain committed to having a robust compliance process to help ensure that our values and our Standards and Guiding Principles are reflected throughout our supply chain and will take the necessary actions to do so.

-Monty Schilter, Senior Vice President, Northwest Dairy Association