In this Nov. 8, 2021, file photo, farmworkers with the Vermont-based group Migrant Justice hold signs outside of the Forest Avenue Hannaford in Portland. Credit: Ari Snider / Maine Public

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The rising cost of food has been on everyone’s mind. As we grapple with this, we must also consider the working conditions of those who bring us the products we enjoy. Maine has a vibrant farming community including hard working migrant dairy farm workers.

The farmworker organization, Migrant Justice, is calling on Maine’s Hannaford Supermarkets to join the Milk With Dignity program. If Hannaford signed on, following in Ben & Jerry’s footsteps, it would guarantee that the dairy products in their stores, the ones we purchase, are from farms where basic human rights, such as adequate housing, safe working conditions and fair pay are respected.

Hannaford supports local foods and healthy eating initiatives. Now it’s time to add guaranteed basic human rights for farm workers to the list of initiatives it supports. While many farms around Maine prioritize the living and working conditions for their farm workers, some do not. There are stories of overcrowded and dangerous housing, unfair pay, lack of time off, and lack of safe working conditions. These are not things we should tolerate.

Hannaford Supermarkets can play a critical role in addressing this. As a major corporation that enjoys profits from our dairy farmers and their largely immigrant workforce, it can sign onto the Milk With Dignity program. I believe it is a moral obligation that Hannaford, such a powerful piece of the food supply chain, does all it can to ensure that those who are behind the production of the dairy products it distributes are treated fairly.

Mary Dunn