Time to Hold Corporations Accountable To Farmworkers
The deplorable conditions and pay for farmworkers on large produce farms in Mexico have been in the news a lot lately, most recently due to a large farmworker strike in Baja that started March 19th. Lack of sanitation, little to no bedding, withholding of already inadequate wages, and restricting workers’ ability to leave.
It is time to hold large buyers accountable to farmworkers and with close to half of all food consumed in the US coming from restaurant, large restaurant chains and their buying practices are part of the problem and need to be part of the solution.
Tell Starbucks to Speak Out Against Unfair Trade
Tell Starbucks to oppose Fast Track and stand up for farmers and workers through fair trade policies that benefit all, not just the corporate bottom line.
Time to Remind Congress We Don’t Want Another NAFTA Disaster
Fast Track is in the spotlight again. Fast Track is the name given to the type of bill that would give authority to the President to sign onto “free trade” deals like the TPP (Read more about free trade agreements…) These trade agreements are largely negotiated in secret, but leaked documents reveal that, as currently written, they would be disastrous for working families, small-scale farmers, public health, and the environment, while making it easier for large multi-national corporations to thrive.
Tell Walmart and Children’s Place to be fair. The victims of Rana Plaza have waited long enough!
On April 24, 2013 the Rana Plaza building collapsed in Dkaka, Bangladesh killing over 1,100 people, injuring thousands more. A year later, the victims of this tragedy have not been fully and fairly compensated for their losses…
FWP Responds to Yes! Magazine’s analysis of fair trade vs. direct trade.
FWP writes a letter to Yes! Magazine in response to their analysis of Fair Trade vs. direct trade…
Read our letter here [.pdf file]
Read the Yes! magazine article
Nearly 10,000 Consumers Tell Driscoll’s To Be Fair
Farmworkers at Sakuma Brothers Farms have called for a boycott of the farm’s products due to concerns over pay, housing, and working conditions. Driscoll’s is one of Sakuma’s largest buyers and FWP sent a letter to Driscoll’s, signed by nearly 10,000 consumers, asking them to ensure a fair contract for farmworkers or suspend purchases for the farm.
Read our letter to Driscoll (.pdf)
FWP Letter to Nestle Re: Switch From Artificial Vanilla
In February 2015, Nestle announced they would remove artificial colors and flavors from their most popular candy bars. Fair World Project is calling them to take the next step and commit to not use synbio vanilla, a vanilla flavoring that uses genetically engineered yeast to produce, and to work with fair trade farmers to increase the impact of their decision. After an initial response from Nestle Customer Service indicating it had no intention to use synbio vanilla but no response on fair trade, FWP sent a follow up asking for a more formal statement expressing Nestle’s commitment to avoid synbio as well as a response on working with farmers on fair trade terms.
Read the Letter [pdf file]
Read the follow up letter [pdf file]
FWP Letter to Castle Rock Re: For Life Certification
Fair World Project responded to the press releases issued by Castle Rock Water Company regarding their achievement of For Life social certification. In both their original and updated press release, FWP felt Castle Rock implied their water was certified as fair trade when in reality the company has been certified as socially responsible. FWP believes strongly that water should not be certified fair trade and any publicity by this company should make it clear that it is not.
Read our Letter to Castle Rock Re: For Life Certification [pdf file]
FWP Inquiry to Fair for Life Regarding Certified Bottled Water
FWP sent a letter to Fair for Life regarding a press release issued by Castle Rock brand bottled water announcing their Fair for Life Certification. FWP believes that water is a right not a certifiable commodity. If Castle Rock was certified under For Life for its social responsibility as a company, FWP believes that should be clear and steps should be taken to avoid the impression that the water itself is certified fair trade, as implied in the press release.
Read our Letter to Fair For Life [pdf file]
FWP Comments on Pesticides: Agricultural Worker Protection Standard
On August 7, 2014 FWP submitted comments to the EPA commended some aspects of the proposed Agricultural Worker Protection Standard but asking them to strengthen several aspects. The statement included comments from 199 consumers supporting our stated concerns. Read the full statement submitted to the EPA.
FWP Comments on Pesticides: Agricultural Worker Protection Standard [pdf file]
Addressing Synbio and Genetic Engineering in Fair Trade and Eco-Social Certification
On June 16, Fair World Project sent letters to Fair Trade USA (FTUSA), Fairtrade International (FLO), Institute for Market Ecology (IMO), and Rainforest Alliance asking them to state and improve their positions on genetic engineering and especially synthetic biology (synbio). Synbio is a technology that allows chemical companies to create ingredients in vats via synthetic DNA inserted into microbes that are fed sugar or corn syrup. Becaues the stated intention of leading synbio manufacturers is to label and market synbio ingredients as “natural,’ they will undercut and compete unfairly with high value crops that provide sustainable livelihoods for farmers and workers. We believe eco-social and fair trade certifiers should direct brands to purchase non-GMO and non-synbio ingredients and that the inclusion of any such ingredients in a composite product should be prohibited ideally or at a minimum clearly labeled to avoid confusion.
Read our letter to Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) [pdf file]
Read our letter to Fairtrade International (FLO) [pdf file]
Read our letter to Institute for Market Ecology (IMO) [pdf file]
Read our letter to Rainforest Alliance [pdf file]
Fair World Project’s Statement in Response to the “Fair Trade Employment and Poverty Reduction in Uganda and Ethiopia Report”
The Fair Trade, Employment and Poverty Reduction Project (FTEPR) released its final report on its four-year research into agricultural labor in Ethiopia and Uganda this past April. This report focuses on complex and important issues, and highlights the prevalence of wage laborers even on small-scale fair trade farms. However, though this report contributes to our understanding of fair trade’s strengths and weaknesses, it does not mean that the fair trade model—conceived as a way to enhance opportunities and market access for small-scale farmers—is not working or should be abandoned. Read FWP’s full statement… […]
Posted on June 9, 2014
Responses to Fairtrade International’s Fairtrade Sourcing Partnership
Fairtrade International recently released a proposal called the Fairtrade Sourcing Partnership that would allow a fair trade label (similar to the current fair trade mark used by Fairtrade International and its labeling parters such as Fairtrade America) if 100% of either sugar or cocoa are certified, even if other ingredients are not. […]
Posted on November 19, 2013
Fair World Project Statement Regarding Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) Apparel Program
Like many of you, Fair World Project is concerned with the apparel industry and the farmers and workers involved in the complex, often dangerous, supply chain. This has been especially true after the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh where 1,129 workers died in April. We certainly understand the desire to believe there is a fair trade “gold standard” to assure us our clothing is ethically produced at all levels of the supply chain. Unfortunately, Fair Trade USA’s Apparel Program is not it for three main reasons.
Posted on November 5, 2013
Recruitment of Thai Prisoners to Work on Thai Fishing Boats
Fair World Project joined the International Labor Rights Forum and more than 40 other non-governmental organizations globally to express concern over a pilot project proposed by the Thai government to recruit prisoners to work on fishing vessels, posing serious human rights violations.
Read the Letter – English [.pdf]
Read the Letter – Thai Translation [.pdf]
Posted on January 20, 2015
Advocates to Sec Kerry: Don’t Jeopardize Successful Food Program in El Salvador
The Office of US Trade Representative and the quasi government agency Millennium Challenge Corporation recently came under fire from both NGOs and Congressional Leaders after threatening to withhold aid from El Salvador if they did not drop a successful seed program that had helped farmers grow more staple crops and earn more money, in favor of a plan that would favor corporations pushing GMO seeds for profits. FWP was one of the organizations that signed a letter to Secretary of State Kerry asking him to support the countries seed program. After pressure from within government and from advocates, the US has appeared to soften its stance on the program.
Read the press release and letter…
Read an update on the apparent progress in saving the seed program…
Groups Act to Protect Country of Origin Labeling
The undersigned 179 farm, rural, faith, environmental, labor, farmworker and consumer organizations respectfully urge you to support basic food labeling and to reject any attempts to defund or undermine Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law and regulations. Consumers want to know more, not less, about the origins of their food and using an appropriations rider to deny them that knowledge is unacceptable.
Cool Rider Sign-on Letter to Senate [.pdf]
Cool Rider Sign-on Letter to House [.pdf]
Groups Act to Groups Urge Congress to Protect Family Farmers Through Packers and Stockyards Act
The Packers and Stockyards Act is one of the most important federal statutes for our nation’s livestock and poultry farmers and ranchers. It prohibits meatpackers and poultry companies from using their market power to subject farmers and ranchers to anticompetitive, deceptive, fraudulent and abusive business practices. Although the Act was originally enacted in 1921, its importance is even greater now because of the growth and vertical integration of meatpacker and poultry companies. This has given them considerable market power and enabled contracting practices that are abusive and harmful to family farmers. The undersigned 168 farmer, rancher, consumer, labor, farmworker and faith organizations are writing to urge your opposition to any appropriations policy riders to limit the rulemaking authority of the Secretary of Agriculture under the Packers and Stockyards Act.
Anti-GIPSA Rider Sign-on Letter to Senate [.pdf]
Anti-GIPSA Rider Sign-on Letter to House [.pdf]
Open Letter to Ecover and Method
FWP was one of more than a dozen organizations to sign an open letter to Ecover and Method regarding their unfortunate decision to use ingredients derived from Synthetically Modified Organisms (SMOs) in its products [PDF FILE…]
Human Trafficking in Thailand
In May 2004 FWP joined International Labor Rights Forum and other allies to ask Secretary of State Kerry to take action to address human trafficking in Thailand. [PDF FILE…]
In June 2014 FWP joined ILRF and allies to thank Secretary of State Kerry for the US State Department’s decision to downgrade Thailand to Tier 3 in the Global Trafficking in Persons Report to reflect changes Thailand needs to make to address these issues. [PDF FILE…]
Open Letter to Harvard University Regarding Land-Grabbing Investments
Fair World Project joined other civil society organizations in a letter to Harvard University to express our deep concern about the university’s troubling investments in farmland, forests and other natural resources around the world. [PDF FILE…]
Over 550 Groups Urge Opposition to Fast Track
Over 550 groups, including FWP, signed a letter dated January 27, 2014, urging Congress to oppose the “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act” (Fast Track) which would increase the President’s ability to pass trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that will have negative impacts on farmers, workers, and consumers. [PDF FILE…]
Preserving Country of Origin Labeling Rules in Farm Bill
Fair World Project joined nearly 100 organizations asking the Farm Bill conference to preserve Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) rules that provide accurate information about the source of food. code for dots: [PDF FILE…]
Human Rights and a Burger Giant
Fair World Project joined over 75 food movement leaders in an open letter to Wendy’s asking them to join the Coalition of Immokalee Workers-led Fair Food, a partnership among corporate retailers, tomato farms, and farmworkers to create a more fair and sustainable industry.
TTIP/TAFTA Crossborder Letter Re-Release
Fair World Project joined nearly 100 organization in the US and Europe register our early concern about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), also known as Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), based on the information about the coming negotiations and state our opposition to the use of behind-closed-door trade negotiations to change and lower public interest measures for the sake of commercial interests. This letter was sent at the start of the second round of negotiations in Brussels the week of November 11, 2013. […]
Over 400 organizations, including FWP, signed a letter demanding Congress pass a Full and Fair 2013 Farm Bill.
Tell Discoll’s to stop purchasing from Sakuma Brother’s
Farmworkers at the Sakuma Brothers berry farm in Washington state have been in a years-long struggle for fair pay and rights protection with farm owners. Tell Discoll’s to stop purchasing from Sakuma Brother’s until they negotiate a fair contract with Familias Unidas por la Justicia! Read more…
Join Vandana Shiva on the call for Seed Freedom and Food Democracy
Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, invited President Obama to attend India’s Republic Day celebrations on January 26th 2015. In anticipation of this visit and in the context of the two countries’ varying views on seed freedom and food democracy, activist, author and physicist, Dr. Vandana Shiva penned an open letter to Indian Prime Minister Modi and President Obama on Seed Freedom and Food Democracy. Over 15,000 people signed on to Dr. Shiva’s letter.
Take Action: Tell the UN that Small Farmers Cool Planet and Feed the World
Over 450,000 people converged in New York in September 2014 to demand action climate from United Nations (UN) and world governments. The People’s March marked the beginning of a new era in climate activism, now including farmers, consumers and fair trade advocates.
Sign the Petition: Synthetic Biology is Not “Natural”
As consumers, we trust that when a company calls itself natural and sustainable, its products won’t contain ingredients produced via genetic engineering or synthetic biology. Method’s parent company, Ecover, has just announced that it will be introducing a new ingredient, synthetic biology-derived algal oil, into its products. Method has indicated that it will follow the same route. This oil will be produced with new, virtually unregulated, unassessed experimental extreme genetic techniques.
Federal Fair Minimum Wage Act
The Fair Minimum Wage Act would have raised the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016 and raise the tipped wage as well. When Speaker of the House John Boehner announced he would not even introduce the bill in 2014, we facilitated an alert to encourage other Representatives to sign a Discharge Petition and force a vote. The procedural measure has failed and the best home for immediate action to increase wages for low-wage workers is at the state level. FWP continues to work with allies, especially the Food Chain Workers Alliance, to advocate for increased minimum wages.
The Pledge to Tell Walmart to Be Fair
For International Food Workers Week 2013, nearly 5,000 people signed our pledge to stand in solidarity with Walmart employees and the workers and farmers who supply them, in the face of chronic mistreatment and unfair payment by Walmart. Since then, Walmart has shown some hope for improvement by signing the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Fair Food agreement, but that only helps workers in one supply chain. We continue to work within the Food Chain Workers Alliance for more widespread change and support campaigns such as the worker organization Our Walmart.
Transparency for TPP and No Fast Track
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a massive trade agreement involving the US and 11 other countries along the Pacific Rim. Not only is it expected to have negative consequences for farmers, workers, and consumers, negotiations have been largely secret. To raise awareness for this largely hidden agreement, in 2012, FWP joined other allies in social media and street actions, as well as with an alert facilitating thousands of letters sent directly to President Obama urging him to ensure a fair trade policy that benefits farmers, workers, and consumers, and make the process more transparent. We also facilitated letter-writing to Senators and Representatives asking them to reject Fast Track, both the bill introduced in January 2014, and any compromise form that may be later introduced. Fortunately, due to strong public outcry, a few leaders in Congress, and flaws in the process, momentum for TPP and Fast Track are slowing. We continue to monitor this situation, along with negotiations for another major trade agreement, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). You can also learn more by checking our trade policy page or by watching our Free Trade vs. Fair Trade video.
Additional Trade Policy Advocacy.
Though 2012 was the year that trade policy advocacy increased for both FWP and many of our allies, both because of the immediacy of the TPP threat as well as the introduction of a new agreement—the Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA), FWP has been advocating against detrimental free trade policies and for fair policies since our inception in 2010. Past actions include an early version of a letter to Congress and Governors opposing TPP, a letter asking President Obama to postpone implementation of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement until they address grave labor rights abuses, and an alert requesting Representatives sign onto a letter issued by Reps DeLauro and Miller demanding greater transparency for the TPP process.
Letters to Starbucks CEO and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters CEO Asking Them to Support Small Farmers and Stop “Fair Trade “ Coffee Plantations.
After Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) initiated its Fair Trade For All program, which for the first time opened fair trade certification to coffee plantations, FWP facilitated a letter writing campaign asking Starbucks and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, two of the largest coffee roasters that are FTUSA licensees, to decline participation in this program. More than 2,000 concerned consumers sent letters to Starbucks, Green Mountain, and FTUSA, but none have committed to exclude plantations from “fair trade” coffee. In part in response to this, FWP no longer recognizes FTUSA as a legitimate fair trade certifier. We continue to monitor and educate about the issue.
Engagement to Tell Hershey to Be Fair.
Building on and in conjunction with the Raise the Bar campaign, FWP engaged in the campaign to tell Hershey that buying cocoa from sources that exploit child workers is not acceptable. As part of this campaign, in addition to letters sent directly to Hershey’s, nearly 5,000 people wrote letters to Whole Foods Market asking them to stop carrying all Hershey’s brand products. Shortly after, Whole Foods Market announced that they would do just that, leading in turn to Hershey announcing they would certify all cocoa in coming years. FWP considers Hershey’s commitment only a partial victory and continues to monitor progress toward a truly fair supply chain.
Engagement with Fair Trade USA, Formerly Transfair USA.
When then Transfair USA announced that they would change their name to Fair Trade USA (FTUSA) and later that they would leave the Fairtrade International System, FWP and more than 10,000 concerned consumers expressed concern. The name Fair Trade USA implies FTUSA thinks they own fair trade in the US, though they simply offer a single service, certification, that one segment of a large movement actually uses. Leaving the established international fair trade system meant that they left the system where fair trade farmers actually have a voice and means FTUSA is no longer accountable to farmers or an established system of certification. These changes were indeed accompanied by the alarming announcement that FTUSA would open up certification to coffee plantations, despite demands by small-scale fair trade coffee farmers that they not. Despite broad concern expressed by consumers, authentic fair traders, farmer groups, and advocacy organizations, Fair Trade USA went ahead with each of these changes.