The commitment of Co-op members to small farmer cooperatives and Fair Trade over the past 25 years has helped trading co-ops build and strengthen the cooperative supply chains of small farmers worldwide. Because consumers understand and support the noble principles behind Fair Trade, small farmer organizations across the world have achieved the level of success they currently enjoy.
Unfortunately, this success and all our advances are now in jeopardy.
Deep controversies in the Fair Trade movement have been simmering over the past decade. Today, the situation has reached a boiling point.
Support Authentic Fair Trade, Support Co-ops
Equal Exchange and many other organizations say it is time to reaffirm our commitment to the Fair Trade movement in which small farmer cooperatives play a central and vital role. They say that the corporate, plantation mod el put forth by TransFair/Fair Trade USA is not Fair Trade, and are circulating an online public statement/petition to this effect.
For more information about the issues brewing in the Fair Trade controversy, including Equal Exchange’s perspective on the differences between Authentic Fair Trade and what TransFair USA is doing, please read these resources at www.smallfarmersbigchange.coop:
• Equal Exchange Co-Founder Rink Dickinson’s Analysis
• A producer’s point of view
• Statements from: Latin American and Caribbean Network of Small Fair Trade Producers (CLAC), Fair World Project, United Students for Fair Trade, International Brotherhood of Teamsters
• Background summary of the evolution of the Fair Trade controversy.
I Stand With Small Farmers Public Statement
We, the undersigned, reaffirm our commitment to the authentic Fair Trade movement that we have collectively built for 25 years since Equal Exchange was founded and first introduced Fair Trade food products into the United States.
Small farmer cooperatives are the center of our Fair Trade movement. We believe that cooperative organization is essential for small farmers to survive and thrive, and the cooperative model is an important vehicle for economic empowerment and social change. Working with small farmer co-operatives through Fair Trade strengthens farming communities worldwide, protects the environment, and builds a just and sustainable food system for all.
Therefore, we vigorously oppose Fair Trade USA’s (previously Transfair USA)’s Fair Trade for All initiative, which seeks to allow coffee, cacao, and other commodities from plantations into the Fair Trade system. This strategy means that small farmers will now be forced to compete with large plantations for market access –which is contrary to the very reason Fair Trade was created in the first place. The Fair Trade community opposes this action. We oppose the lower standards Fair Trade USA proposes and the lack of farmer and producer governance on Fair Trade USA’s board. We believe that their Fair Trade For All initiative threatens the existence of small farmer co-operatives’ existence and Fair Trade itself.