We received a copy of the following letter (translated from the original Portuguese) from the Association of Fair Trade Producer Organizations of Brazil, sent last month to Paul Rice, President of Fair Trade USA
Boa Esperança, May 10th of 2012
Dear Mr. Rice,
The Fairtrade certified coffee producers in Brazil is writing this letter to express our dissatisfaction with the changes that are deploying Fair Trade USA since late 2011, and for entry and certification of large individual farms of coffee.
It is with great concern that we observe the commitment of the Fair Trade USA to promote the product from large farms, on the grounds of wanting to bring the benefits of Fair Trade label workers on large farms. We understand the great challenges facing the market and the current needs of the growing Fair Trade label. But consider that there are many other alternatives to achieve this goal without jeopardizing smallholder farmers.
The system of large-scale production is one factor that makes the highly competitive large farms with low production costs and the ability to offer coffee at low prices in the market, becoming a major threat to small producers, Fairtrade label. Another factor is that large farms are already holding other certifications that already guarantee that your product has a large percentage of the market, so the Fairtrade seal for them would be unnecessary.
The family farm, according to the IBGE 2006 census, produces approximately 34% of coffee from Brazil, worked by landowners and by partners and tenants. According to the Brazilian reality, only 1% of this total has been certified to Fairtrade label, which currently has 6,000 families and involved some 24,000 workers directly benefit from, promoting local development, improve the quality of life of the producer in its surroundings, and posting financial resources in their region. Being a high probability of growth with small producers in Brazil.
The Fairtrade certification organizations of small producers has shown its benefits to the community in recent years.
The distribution of revenue from the sale of Fairtrade-labeled coffee, among owners of small properties, partners, tenants and workers has boosted the region and developed areas in the environmental, health, education and quality of life, thanks to the aggregation of turnover values and with the investment of the award. Instead, the certification of large individual farms concentrates proceeds from the sale of coffee in a single owner and no longer in the hands of a few workers.
In our view, these changes threaten the most precious value of a family farmer: Being the owner of his own land, enhancing the fruit of your work, keep your family around a single ideal and food stamp along with the dreams and ideals producing property and quality of life. The professionalization of the small producer is also helping to maintain our youth in the region, managing small agricultural enterprises and participating in associations and cooperatives.
When we manifest our dislike and disgust with the current design of the Fair Trade USA, we would like to make clear, the appreciation and respect we have always had for your organization. We are grateful to FAIR TRADE USA for work, that was developed with us small coffee producers, adding their efforts and resources in partnership with other organizations in our development and growth.
Given the potential growth of family farming in Brazil, we recommend that efforts and investments are Fairtrade USA in expanding the Fairtrade seal for family farmers are not yet certified.
BR Fair – Fairtrade Association Representative Groups of Brazil, is positioned against the certification of large individual farms, because it represents, defends and ensures that the Fairtrade seal in Brazil never lost its essence, it is the only certification in the world allows families of small producers to market fairly the fruits of his labor.