Ever since Food Empowerment Project (F.E.P.) was founded, our bank was a B Corporation. I was very excited about the concept, as my perception of most for-profit corporations (and even some non-profit corporations) is not the best, and I felt that if corporations tried to do good, maybe there was some hope.
As an organization, we have found most certifications to be unreliable, so I am always amazed when I forget that nothing is perfect and there may be more to something than meets the eye.
We are based in Sonoma County, where the “Happy Cows” are, and because of this, we have launched our “Stop Animal Cruelty One Glass at a Time” campaign.
It is here where Clover Sonoma dairy, which claims, “We love our cows and treat them with kindness and respect,” has littered the county with billboards.
Their boast of being a B Corp made me begin to question what B Corporations were all about.
As a vegan of more than 30 years, I don’t see how animal agriculture could qualify for such a certification as dairies, for example, are responsible for separating mama cows from their babies, artificially inseminating the cows (just like human animals, cows have to be pregnant to have milk and the milk is actually supposed to be for their own offspring), killing and disposing of males calves as they are “useless” to the dairy industry (just like human animals the males do not produce milk), and of course, the eventual killing of all of the females.
But I know how society works, and at this point, to most in society, all of this still seems ‘acceptable.’
But how in the world could a dairy receive B Corporation status when their criteria states certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose? B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. (https://bcorporation.net/about-b-corps)
Those who are not familiar with the environmental impacts of cows used in the dairy industry need to understand that each cow produces 120 pounds of wet manure per day. A dairy of 30 cows will produce 3, 600 pounds of wet manure in a day, or more than 25,000 pounds (the weight of an armored car) in a week, and more than 108,000 pounds in a month (a fire truck only weighs 80,000 pounds). There are no sewage treatment plants on dairies, and keep in mind that when the manure dries, it can then pollute the air, water, and nearby communities.
I contacted the people at “Certified B Corporation” to get some information on what types of questions they ask companies, and because public transparency is one of their criteria, I figured it would not be a problem for them to share that information with me. Not so.
In fact, I couldn’t get any information out of them, and their website itself lacked questions that were asked of the companies. Their consistent response was that the information provided to them in order to be considered and assessed for B Corp certification, along with the disclosure of past conflicts and answers to questions once accepted as a B Corporation, were all “confidential,” but I could just go ahead and take a look at their scores. In other words, it’s supposed to be a matter of “trust,” with no real “public transparency.”
If Clover has indeed created an incredible new program that somehow deals with all of this waste – why wouldn’t they want to share it if they are truly interested in the public good? And why not be open about how they treat their workers? On a personal note, I do not think their treatment of animals should be overlooked.
I have no doubt that some companies who have this status are trying to help make the world a better place while they make a profit, but if this certification is going to succeed, they need to provide more public transparency.
F.E.P. now uses a local credit union.
Where weight estimates came from: http://www.bountyheadbebop.com/forum/index.php?topic=24.0