Ben & Jerry’s signs major agreement to protect dairy workers

In a first for the dairy industry, the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s has signed an agreement to eventually buy all of its milk from Vermont dairies that uphold rigorous standards for treatment and pay of employees. The standards, known as Milk with Dignity, were devised by the workers themselves and based on the Fair Food Program established by tomato workers in Florida under the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW).

Hot enough to kill a cow

Dairy farmers in three counties in California's Central Valley have temporary permission from local officials to bury or compost hundreds of cows that died in a June heat wave, says the Fresno Bee. Ordinarily, the dead animals would be sent to a rendering plant, but there are too many carcasses and a mechanical malfunction reduced the plant's capacity.

French pastry-makers worry over butter shortage

Butter prices are soaring in France, the home of the croissant, whose flaky crust and satisfying taste rely on the dairy product, reports the Guardian. "There is a real risk of butter running out," says the federation of French biscuit and cake makers.

NE Farmers lose their crops and herds because of drought

Hit hard by the worst drought in more than a decade, Northeast dairy and vegetable farmers are making difficult sacrifices. “Some private wells have dried up. Farmers face millions of dollars in lost crops, and federal agricultural officials have declared much of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut a natural disaster area,” says The New York Times.

USDA bans slaughter of ‘downer’ calves

More than a decade after it banned slaughter of "downer" cattle to provide meat for human consumption, USDA said it will ban slaughter of veal calves that are unable to stand or walk when they arrive at packing plants. The Food Safety and Inspection Service said the ban, to take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, will mean that the calves receive better treatment.

Oregano oil could help save the planet from cow belches

Feeding cows oregano oil may help cut back on their methane-laced belching, says NPR. Bovine belching accounts for one third of global methane emissions, and methane is 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.