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 Cities

cities_minnesota

    What will the just economy of the future look like? We asked for your suggestions for cities across North America that are living examples of fair trade values in action. Is yours on the list? MINNEAPOLIS/ST PAUL, Minnesota Minneapolis-St. Paul is a hotbed of fair trade activity. For decades now, local nonprofits like the […]

It’s Time for Wages With Dignity

timeforwage02

by Ryan Johnson Quietly, hidden behind the headlines that feature presidential candidates bemoaning the state of our country and our economy, voters in several states are no longer waiting on politicians. They’re taking matters into their own hands and launching minimum wage ballot initiatives to create the economic change people sorely need. The impetus for […]

The Business Case for Raising the Minimum Wage

businesscase01

by David Bronner At Dr. Bronner’s, the company I run with my family, we believe that we can only prosper in the long run if we contribute to the prosperity of society as a whole. It’s why we strive to compensate all our staff fairly, cap executive compensation at five times the lowest paid position, […]

“Berta Did Not Die. She Multiplied.”

berta01

A Tribute to the Work of Berta Cáceres, Indigenous Rights Leader by Ryan Zinn Berta Cáceres was murdered in her home on March 3, 2016 in the community of La Esperanza, Honduras. Berta cofounded the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) in 1993, a grassroots organization that struggled for indigenous rights […]

Lucky – A Guest Worker’s Story

lucky01

By David Mohrmann Though he had not wanted to leave his wife and children for six months, had not wanted to sleep on a cot in a room with three other men, had not wanted to work long days under difficult conditions, Miguel said he was one of the lucky ones. At least he had […]

Fair Chance Employment Benefits Us All

fairchance01

By Terrell Hall Earning a living wage through gainful employment is crucial to the huge number of Americans struggling to make ends meet, including the 630,000 women and men who will come home from prison this year. A staggering amount of employment challenges await the formerly incarcerated because of their felony convictions. Particularly hard hit […]

Policy Corner: Farms in California Prepare for $15/Hour Minimum Wage

policy_corne_fallr

By Kerstin Lindgren California legislators, responding to the growing Fight for $15 and Raise the Wage movements, passed a law earlier this year that will guarantee all workers in the state a minimum wage of $15 an hour. This is great news for farmworkers in the country’s largest agricultural state. But will it be a […]

From Weaving to Seed-Saving, Climate Change, and Fighting Monsanto

weaving01

A Guatemalan Woman’s Story of Empowerment Through Organizing an interview with Yolanda Sebastiana Calgua Morales Working together in cooperatives is an empowering aspect of the fair trade movement for farmers and artisans around the world. On a recent trip to Guatemala, Dana Geffner, Executive Director of Fair World Project, sat down with Yolanda Sebastiana Calgua […]

Radio CATA

radiocata

A Radio Station to Empower the Latino Community By Meghan Hurley In November of 2015, CATA, The Farmworkers Support Committee, officially launched Radio CATA, its own Spanish language non-commercial low-power FM radio station in Bridgeton, New Jersey. The radio station began as a way to reach out to the immigrant community and engage them in […]

Small is Beautiful: But Can Its Rules be Applied to the Fashion Industry?

fairworld

Contributing writer, Safia Minney, Founder and Director of People Tree, argues that we must make and buy clothes while being conscious of their humanity and sustainability. People Tree is working with small-scale organic farmer, artisan and tailor fair trade groups in eight countries. This year is People Tree’s 25th anniversary in Japan where I started […]