Threemile Canyon Farms Signs Agreement with UFW

Who makes the cheese you eat? Or, more to the point, who tends the cows that give the milk that made that cheese?

Eastern Oregon is a dairying capital of sorts, home to several industrial farms said to milk upwards of 40 - 50,000 cows. The largest of these is Threemile Canyon Farms, which employs 250 dairy workers who tend 15,000 cows (roughly half Jersey and half Holstein, according to their website). Over the past several years, a multitude of disputes have arisen at Threemile Canyon (see here for a summary) over poor working conditions and low wages, among other issues. In November of last year, the workers voted to form a union. Today the United Farm Workers and Threemile Canyon Farms signed a collective bargaining agreement governing wages and health care.

This is significant in the cheese world because Threemile Canyon milk goes, among other places, to the nearby Tillamook Cheese plant.

These days we pretty much take for granted the legitimacy of concerns such as whether milk has rGBH or rBST in it, or whether it's organic and/or farmed sustainably. I would argue that we need to pay attention to labor and related economic factors that contribute to making and growing food we eat as well - and here's a case in point.