The move by Fair Trade USA (previously Transfair USA) to allow coffee and cacao grown on large plantations into the fair-trade system imperils small farmers. When coffee, tea, cacao, and other goods are sourced from small-farmer cooperatives, co-op members earn a fair price for their crops. This allows them to own their land, run democratic businesses, and better meet their families' needs for food, education, health care, and long-term security.
Take action today in solidarity with small farmers around the world; sign the statement below opposing Fair Trade USA’s move to lower the standards for products labeled as fair trade.
The statement is being distributed in collaboration with Equal Exchange, a worker-owned cooperative that sells 100-percent fairly traded products from small-farmer cooperatives.
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 cooperatives 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 (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 — 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 small-farmer cooperatives' existence and fair trade itself.
We ask companies, organizations, and consumers to choose authentic, small-farmer-centered fair trade.