Equal Exchange Encourages GMCR to Leave Fair Trade USA
JOIN OUR MAILING LIST
Enter Email
CONTRIBUTE TODAY
FOLLOW US ON
FEATURED CAMPAIGN

 Watch the Video

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailShare

May 21, 2012

 

PRESS RELEASE

An Open Letter to Green Mountain Coffee Roasters From Equal Exchange:

“Please Leave Fair Trade USA”

WEST BRIDGEWATER, MA?May 20, 2012?In a rare business-to-business plea Equal Exchange has released an open letter to Larry Blanford, the CEO of fellow New England specialty coffee company, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) in the form of a full-page color ad in today’s Sunday edition of the Burlington Free Press (Vermont) that strongly encourages the multi-billion dollar brand to withdraw its support from the controversial certification agency, Fair Trade USA (FTUSA).

Equal Exchange is the Massachusetts-headquartered business that introduced Fair Trade coffee to American grocery stores and coffee shops in the 1980s and 90s and who today remains the largest North American enterprise dedicated exclusively to buying and selling Fair Trade products. GMCR, based in Waterbury, VT, was itself an ‘early adopter’ and has been offering Fair Trade coffee for 14 years. To their considerable credit GMCR recently become the world’s largest purveyor of Fair Trade Certified™ coffee, handling more than 26,000,000 pounds of Fair Trade coffee annually. They have also donated generously to support various economic development efforts in coffee growing communities.

However, while acknowledging these accomplishments, in today’s ad Equal Exchange challenges GMCR to “open your eyes…to the controversy raging…” and “leave Fair Trade USA” in light of recent unilateral changes enacted by the agency.

Without input from stakeholders, on January 1, FTUSA abandoned the global Fair Trade system (Fair Trade International, aka FTI) and loosened eligibility rules to allow large coffee, cocoa and sugar plantations to receive Fair Trade certification. That would put these large estates in direct competition with the hundreds of small-farmer co-operatives around the world who co-created the Fair Trade movement and have been the core of Fair Trade for over 25 years. This was a FTUSA proposal that the 20+ other global members of FTI, including the farmer representatives, had overwhelmingly rejected previously. FTUSA also withheld from FTI the dues it owes for 2011, funds that it is now using to compete with FTI in the US certification market.

Equal Exchange, the small-farmer co-operatives, and many other Fair Trade pioneers and advocates believe these and other recent acts by FTUSA gravely undermine the very purpose of Fair Trade and constitute a betrayal of the small-farmer co-ops.  Consequently they also undermine the important social and economic progress that GMCR’s support of Fair Trade and small farmers has to date made possible.  The open letter goes on to state,

“Fair Trade, a product of years of sweat, sacrifice and risk, belongs to the farmers. But Fair Trade USA has abandoned the legitimate system, not paid its dues, and changed the rules…”

Rink Dickinson & Rob Everts, co-presidents, Equal Exchange

In different forums Equal Exchange has been challenging the path taken by FTUSA, including a recent private meeting with Larry Blanford and others at GMCR. Because of GMCR’s large volume of Fair Trade sales, and the licensing fees it pays for use of the FTUSA seal, it is the largest single source of revenue for FTUSA and a critical pillar of support. Those funds, and the benefits of being associated with the popular GMCR brand, are aiding FTUSA’s efforts even as it pursues a course apart from the rest of the global Fair Trade movement. Therefore Equal Exchange is using this ad, and a subsequent ad that will run on Thursday, May 24th, to publicly encourage GMCR to end its relationship with FTUSA and rejoin the global system of certifiers that FTUSA recently left.

About Equal Exchange
Equal Exchange has been a pioneer and U.S. market leader in Fair Trade since 1986 and is a full service provider of organic coffee, tea, chocolate, cocoa, bananas and other products. 100% of Equal Exchange products are fairly traded, benefiting more than 40 small farmer co-operatives in 25 countries around the world. In keeping with its Fair Trade mission Equal Exchange is a democratically governed, employee-owned co-operative, one of only a few in the US. Equal Exchange has been honored for its social entrepreneurship by Fast Company magazine, The Financial Times, WorldBlu and others.

For more information:

http://www.equalexchange.coop/small-farmer-campaign

&

http://www.equalexchange.coop

CONTACT:

Rodney North

Rodney@equalexchange.coop
Desk        774-776-7398

Cell          617-571-0041

Skype       Rodney.north

FacebookTwitterGoogle+EmailShare

Fair Trade is the Pathway to Regenerative Agriculture

Coop Coffee

The movement for a food system that sustains people and planet is been growing. Fair trade offers a model to incorporate fair livelihoods and the true cost of production into regenerative agriculture models that are both new and very old, feeding the world and tending the planet. Written by Ryan Zinn The climate is changing, […]

A Soil-to-Soil Vision for the Fashion Revolution

Paige Green - Fibershed

From origins in Northern California, Fibershed is building a global network of regional regenerative fiber systems. Founder Rebecca Burgess describes her vision for vibrant local fibersheds that connect us to the landscapes that grow what we wear and sustains a new generation of farmers, ranchers, natural dyers and mills. From conventional cotton production, which uses […]

Fair Trade As We Do It: the Story of Jumbo Nuts

Annie Jose sewing rice seeds into her rice paddy

Fair Trade Alliance Kerala, the small-farmer collective I work for, is recapturing the homestead farming traditions of Kerala. Our goal is to grow to about 10,000 farming families stewarding about 40,000 acres of farmland, creating conditions that are akin to a tropical rainforest in crop diversity and biodiversity. For us, biodiversity is a food security […]

Regenetarians Unite!

Regenetarians Unite

As eaters, we have a choice: will our diets restore and replenish the earth, or will they deplete it? An exploration of three key principles that look beyond simple distinctions between omnivore and vegan towards a new Regenetarian ethos. By David Bronner How the Regenerative Agriculture and Animal Welfare Movements Can End Factory Farming, Restore […]

What Does “Regenerative Agriculture” Mean to You?

Women Workin in Fields - Coop Coffees

We asked that question to a handful of leaders, growers and thinkers from around the world. Here are a few of their thoughts. “Regenerative agriculture, based on our Andean experience, is the direct relationship with life. It gives life back to Mother Earth, provides food that connects with every aspect of human beings and their […]

Product Picks

Peace Coffee

We asked our team for some of their current favorite products from companies committed to the principles of fair trade and regenerative organic farming. Find them online or at your favorite natural food store! Imagine an economy that rewarded small-scale producers for their hard work, fed us all healthy food, and clothed us sustainably. While […]

Fair Trade for Farmers and Soil

Plowing field with oxen

Small-scale organic farming and regenerative agricultural practices combat our climate crisis and help feed the world. Here are just a few of the ways that fair trade producers and their brand partners are collaborating to grow ethical supply chains through regenerative organic agricultural methods, and producing goods that we can all feel good about. This […]

The Hidden History Made at Sakuma Brothers Farms

Picking blueberries: Copyright David Bacon

History was made on September 12, 2016 with the election of Familias Unidas por la Justicia to be the union representing berry pickers at Sakuma Brothers Farms in Washington state. Three perspectives on what that means for farmworkers, farmers, and our food system. History was made on September 12, 2016 with the election of Familias […]

Food Waste, Hunger and Climate Change

Food Wastage Footprint and Climate Change, Rome FAQ

As a child, you likely heard some variation of the cliché, “Eat all your food; there are starving people in the world.” While hunger remains one of humanity’s greatest challenges, the underlying causes are not as clear as one might think. Written by Ryan Zinn As a child, you likely heard some variation of the […]

Fair Cannabis?

Trimming

For decades, workers have flocked to Northern California and Southern Oregon to work the fall cannabis harvest. Some are migrants on their seasonal tour. Others are driven by an interest in cannabis culture, or by the promise of lucrative pay. While some “trimmers” have had pleasant, safe and profitable experiences, many have not. Written by […]