02 September 2008

Fair Trade movement has been to ensure that the vast majority of the world's coffee farmers get a fair price for their harvests in order to achieve a decent living wage. helps sustain social and economical movements throughout the world.

Fair Trade guarantees to poor farmers organized in cooperatives around the world; a living wage (minimum price of $1.26/pound regardless of the volatile market, providing credit to farmers and to help with the transition to organic farming which could take a few years to get rolling); much needed credit at fair prices; and long term relationships. These fair payments are invested in health care, education, environmental stewardship, and economic independence.

Fair Trade Certified coffee is the first product being introduced in the United States with an independently monitored system to ensure that it was produced under fair labor conditions.
The United States consumes one-fifth of all the world's coffee, making it the largest consumer in the world. But few Americans realize that agriculture workers in the coffee industry often toil in what can be described as "sweatshops in the fields." Many small coffee farmers receive prices for their coffee that are less than the costs of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt. When you dont buy Fair Trade Coffee you may be purchasing coffee from agricultural worker conditions described as sweatshops in the field. Some small farmers pay more for the production costs then the price they receive for their coffee.

Fair Trade Coffee Certifications:
  • Farmers and workers sign a long-term contract to receive a sufficient price for coffee.
  • Farmers cannot use child or forced labor.
  • Farmers must use ecological sustainable growing and production methods.
  • Must use Fair Trade Certified on labels and the Fair Trade Federation logo.
An interesting fact is: because of the lack of demand of Fair Trade products, Fair Trade farmers may only sell 20 percent of their produce through these channels and the rest goes to coffee companies at the market rate. We can help working conditions on farms and their surrounds by buying only Fair Trade products.

Fair Trade also certifies other items like: tea, rubber, crafts, cocoa, bananas, home & garden products and musical instruments.

Things to watch out for while purchasing coffee. Some coffee companies use words like fairly traded or shade grown coffee. Some companies have shade-grown certifications, which could include wage and labor standards, but usually concentrate on larger farm productions and pay farmers and workers local minimum wages. These generally arent enforced.

Why Fair Trade Certified Coffee Is An Important New Movement?
  • It's a consumer trend. More and more people care about the conditions of the people who produce the products they buy. Coffee is the first commodity in the United States for which there is an independent monitor that guarantees that producers were paid a fair wage for their product and work in decent conditions, a real alternative to sweatshops.
  • This is a huge industry trend. Across the country, there are over 100 companies that have licensing agreements with TransFair to offer Fair Trade Certified coffee. Major roasters include Starbucks, Tully's, Peet's, Equal Exchange, Diedrich, and Green Mountain, serving over 7,000 retail locations, with volumes rising every day.
  • It's an environmental issue. Small farmers are the best stewards of the land. When you support Fair Trade, you support the environment. Fair Trade farmers don't have the capital input to clear forests, buy chemical fertilizers and pesticides. They generally grow small plots of mixed-crop, shade grown coffee organically.
  • The untold story of the gourmet coffee boom: it's leaving small farmers behind. Prices are currently at 8-year lows, falling under $.50 per pound in August 2001, yet retail prices stay high, meaning mass industry profits. Fair Trade brings small farmers into the boom.

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