What is Fair Trade?
Fair Trade is a global movement to alleviate poverty, improve labor conditions, and assure sustainable farming methods in the developing world.
What exactly are the goals of Fair Trade?
Fair Trade improves the conditions of life and the environment in our world’s most vulnerable regions in six ways:
PREVENT PROVERTY: Fair Trade is a movement that works with producers to set a minimum price for their goods, provide technical support, and deliver economic development aid in the poorest countries in the world. PREVENT EXPLOITATION: Free Trade requires freedom of association and safe working conditions. Child labor, forced labor and discrimination are prohibited. Hardship limits people’s choices while market forces tend to further impoverish and marginalize the most vulnerable workers and farmers. COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT: Premiums paid at the retail level allow farmers and farm workers to invest in life-changing projects from clean drinking water, school scholarships and health care services to housing, reforestation, and organic certification that benefit entire towns and regions. ENVIRONMENTAL STEWARTSHIP: In a high-price market, farmers may be tempted to cut corners to maximize yields and income. Fair Trade encourages farmers to take a long-term approach to agriculture, embracing sustainable practices that conserve natural resources. Fair Trade standards require environmentally sustainable farming methods that protect farmers’ health and preserve ecosystems. These standards strictly prohibit the use of GMOs (genetically modified organisms) and the most toxic agrochemicals, promote active conservation of soil and water resources, and protect surrounding forests. More than half (62 percent) of all Fair Trade imports in 2010 were also certified organic. ACCESS TO CREDIT: Without adequate access to credit, farmers are especially vulnerable to middlemen, robbing cooperatives of the ability to compete effectively with larger traders. SOCIAL ACTION: Fair Trade allows consumers to know that their dollars are being used to address poverty, protect the environment and to work toward ending child labor. Fair Trade is part of the global justice movement to radically redefine power structures through people- centered democratic trading alternatives.
How can I determine if a product is Fair Trade?
What products are certified Fair Trade?
Coffee, flowers, clothes, chocolate, fruit, tea, woodwork, glasswork, and fabric are among the most popular Fair Trade products. The Fair Trade Teaneck Steering Committee has promoted the provision of certified Fair Trade products in more than 20 local shops and service organizations. Its Web page and Buying Guide make it easier for consumers to purchase certified Fair Trade products and support the international Fair Trade movement.
Aren’t Fair Trade products more expensive than their counterparts?
Fair Trade products are certified not only for their compliance with standards assuring economic justice, but also for their high quality. They are competitively priced with other premium products in their category. Indeed, their prices continue to fall the more consumers demand and purchase Fair Trade. Ultimately, consumers who purchase Fair Trade at prices that are sometimes slightly higher than their counterparts’ prices know that just by buying Fair Trade they are making a significant difference.
I hear that Fair Trade USA, the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States, is now supporting large and already more powerful estates. Won’t that hurt the more vulnerable, smaller cooperatives?
Fair Trade USA made the decision on January 1, 2012 to extend its certification policy to estates and other non-cooperative farming enterprises for two reasons: First, it seeks to elevate the safety standards and quality of life for workers on those big farms. Second, many big coffee purchasers in the U.S. want to buy more Fair Trade coffee for their particular blends but need a wider variety of farm producers to do so. To make sure this policy doesn’t imperil the market for small farmers, Fair Trade USA is testing the concept with a limited number of pilot projects – 10 to 20 farms or farm networks – each year.
Does Fair Trade Work?
Just by choosing certified Fair Trade products 1.2 million farmers and workers in 70 countries around the world benefit today from better working conditions, direct trade, a fair wage, available credit, community development, democratic and transparent local management, and environmental sustainability. Thanks to you, their cooperatives are successfully competing for market share and, as a result, are vastly improving the lives and dignity of farmers and other workers around the world.
“Think globally, act locally” are Fair Trade’s watchwords. How can I help?
Consider one or more ways to support farmers and other marginalized workers in the developing world:
1. Use the Fair Trade Teaneck Buying Guide and consult the Fair Trade TeaneckWeb site for local stores that provide Fair Trade. The Fair Trade Steering Committee recruits Fair Trade providers and updates their locations periodically. Shop at these stores and demonstrate your support.
2. The research indicates that just eight shoppers who ask for Fair Trade is all that is necessary to persuade purveyors to provide Fair Trade. The same principle applies to your local organization, club, or congregation. Urge them to provide Fair Trade – directly or by signing the Fair Trade Teaneck petition on the Fair Trade Teaneck Web landing page.
3. Join the Fair Trade Steering Committee. It isn’t enough to provide Fair Trade: your neighbors need to know what Fair Trade is and how they can support it. Our working committee of dedicated citizens reaches that goal by organizing workshops, film screenings, exhibits, and meetings with local leaders.