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Archive for March, 2014

I wanted to repost something that Carol Schachet, Director of Development and Communications, at Grassroots International wrote earlier this year about the important role that small farmers play in “… feeding the world, counteracting greenhouse gas emissions and other environmentally toxic poisons, conserving water and biodiversity and expanding social and economic justice.”  Click here to read this interesting piece about small farmers, Via Campesina, and our food system.

 

 

 

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People often confuse the terms.  They sound so similar.  Free and Fair.  To the uninformed, they even seem to go hand in hand.

Yet, no two concepts could be further apart in terms of what each represents as an idea and what impact each has on small farmers, workers, consumers, local communities, the environment, and so much more.

If you’ve ever found yourself confused about the terms, click here to watch a short video created by our friends at Fair World Project.  In a clear and compelling way, the video demonstrates how current free trade agreements harm small farmers and workers in both the global north and south and then explains the dramatically different approach behind Fair Trade.  The video ends with concrete ways in which you can support Fair Trade brands and policies that place people before profits.

At the end of the day, because free trade and fair trade are in such stark opposition to each other, with the former placing the needs and interests of corporations first and the latter focusing on people and the environment, it is important that we all act with our dollars and our votes to ensure the kind of world we all envision to be possible.

BUY FAIR! VOTE FAIR!

 

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By Beth Ann Caspersen, Quality Control Manager, Equal Exchange
March is Women’s History Month–the perfect time to highlight a new initiative that I helped create: Java Jog for a Cause. The co-founders and I started out as a small group of women in coffee that serendipitously came together through our mutual interests: coffee, and in particular, women in coffee. We wanted to find a meaningful way to highlight the important role that women play in coffee and pair that with health and fitness. Read more here.
March is Women’s History Month–the perfect time to highlight a new initiative that I helped create: Java Jog for a Cause. The co-founders and I started out as a small group of women in coffee that serendipitously came together through our mutual interests: coffee, and in particular, women in coffee. We wanted to find a meaningful way to highlight the important role that women play in coffee and pair that with health and fitness. – See more at: http://equalexchange.coop/blog/java-jog-for-a-cause#sthash.OwThALaG.dpuf

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Equal Exchange’s Banana Conference:

The Future of Authentic Fairtrade Bananas

March 21st, 22nd, and 23rd 2014
Boston, Massachusetts (more…)

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On our way back from a meeting with one of the women's groups organized through FTAK, somewhere between the towns of Kudiyanmala and Vellad.

A brief stop on our way back from a meeting with one of the women’s groups organized through FTAK, somewhere between the towns of Kudiyanmala and Vellad.

Fair Trade Alliance of Kerala, (FTAK) a 4500-member co-operative of small farmers in southern India, has created an exciting initiative to articulate and put into practice what most fair trade farmer co-operatives understand empirically.  Fair Trade is important but it’s simply not enough.  It’s a starting point; a means to an end; certainly not the end itself.  Like kicking off the day with a well-balanced breakfast, selling cash crops on fair trade terms is a  foundation from which so much else becomes more possible.  But, like the role that a healthy breakfast plays in someone’s day, it is what comes afterwards that brings true community empowerment, development, and social change. (more…)

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… and having trouble navigating the waters?

Many thanks to Fair World Project for their easy-to-use, interactive, fun tool to help you distinguish between seven different certification schemes.

Meets FWP’s expectations and/or is a model program in this area.

Acceptable policy that at least meets current industry standards, but there is room for improvement.

Problem area/red flag that needs immediate improvement.

Click here to see how seven certification schemes measure up to a list of “fair” criteria and then see which brands use the different certification labels on their products.

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TransFair/Fair Trade USA walking away with the fruits of 25 years of the movement's collective labor.

TransFair/Fair Trade USA walking away with the fruits of 25 years of the movement’s collective labor, to the detriment of small farmers & consumers.

If you are new to Fair Trade, or quite understandably, are just still confused about what the big fuss is when people talk about the Fair Trade controversy, the “split in the movement”, or the betrayal of small coffee farmers, this very brief, compelling, an easy-to-follow article by Nicki Lisa Cole and Keith Brown should help clear away the clouds.  Cole and Brown “interviewed fair trade store owners, coffeehouse managers and baristas, importers and exporters, coffee industry consultants, cooperative and movement leaders, farmers, artisans, and consumers,” and combine this with their own research and analysis to provide their account of what went wrong when Transfair USA (now Fair Trade USA) left the international Fair Trade system and begin certifying plantation coffee.

Sadly, the actions of Fair Trade USA now make it necessary for informed consumers to think twice when they take a Fair Trade certified product off the grocery shelf:  Does this product support democratic small farmer organizations or large multinational companies & plantation owners?

Let us know what you think.

 

The Problem with Fair Trade Coffee

By Nicki Lisa Cole & Keith Brown

Abstract

Many people purchase fair trade certified products because they trust that doing so makes a difference in the lives of small producers around the world. Sociologists Nicki Lisa Cole and Keith Brown discuss how changes to certification policy have modified the meaning of fair trade in a way that has troubling implications for small coffee farmers.

Cartoon courtesy of John Klossner. Copywrite 2012.

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