B Lab will uphold Danone North America’s B Certification, the company said in a December 2021 email to The Republican Journal. The decision came in response to a petition submitted to the organization asking it to reconsider Danone’s certification after the company announced that it will end its contracts with Northeast organic dairy farmers.

After considering everything, B Lab decided the company can keep its certification, but must disclose the situation on its B Corp public profile for transparency. It will continue to monitor the situation and if new information becomes available related to the decision, the complaint process could be reopened.

Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association joined a coalition that submitted a petition with more than 15,000 signatures to B Lab asking the organization to reconsider Danone’s B Certification over the decision to end its contracts. The certification is given to companies that commit to transparency and accountability, and requires them to consider the long-term effects of their actions on stakeholders.

“B Lab acknowledges and is deeply sympathetic to the fact that the farmers affected by this decision find themselves in a difficult financial situation that may affect their livelihood and well-being,” the organization said in its email. “Certified B Corps are expected to make decisions with consideration of the impacts on stakeholders in mind.

“While these decisions may still nonetheless lead to a potential negative impact on a particular stakeholder group, it is also considered how a company engages in ways to mitigate that negative impact to the extent possible.”

Danone’s decision will affect 89 organic dairy farmers throughout the Northeast, including 14 farms in Maine, two of which are in Waldo County.

The company’s decision was based on challenges transporting the product to its processing facility in Buffalo, New York, it said in a statement for a previous Journal article. The transportation challenges are not caused by the pandemic.

During a November 2021 meeting between Danone and a group of stakeholder organizations, including MOFGA, the company was given two options to rectify the situation for the affected farms.

One option presented to the company was to stay in the Northeast and invest in a different processing plant. The other option asked Danone to financially invest in the region, providing necessary support to help the 89 affected farms transition to another option, along with other concessions to the farms.

Danone announced it will extend its contract with Northeast farmers, which was supposed to end in August, by an additional six months. MOFGA said it was a “small step toward honoring its social responsibility commitment.”

The company’s extended contract will now end Feb. 28, 2023. Danone also offered additional payments attached to milk purchased from farms during the last six months of the contract, to provide for farm consultants and look into co-investment solutions for dairy infrastructure in the Northeast.

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