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“Free Trade” Agreements Move Forward

Despite widespread protest from farmers, environmentalists and workers, the Obama Administration pushed through Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. The new FTAs expand upon the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which has led to weakened environmental standards, increased poverty in rural communities and watered down labor laws. A cross border alliance of farmers, consumers and fair traders have increasingly called for a renegotiation of NAFTA to ensure that farmers’ livelihoods are respected and maintained.

Read more and take action at Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch Campaign.

Fair Trade Shrimp on the Horizon

Fair trade continues to spread beyond coffee and tea. Soon, consumers may be able to fi nd fair trade certified organic or ecologically raised shrimp from Thailand and other countries in Southeast Asia. Certified coops must adhere to IFOAM aquaculture standards and use bioremediation techniques to sustainably recycle waste into nutrients for local farms. Fisher coops have long looked for market access for their product, as the global marketplace is dominated by large-scale farmed fi sh operations. Fairtrade shrimping off ers a clear ecological alternative for consumers looking for ethical shrimp. Fairtrade International is focusing exclusively on shrimp during this pilot phase. IMO Fair for Life has a generic standard that is applicable for all fish and shellfish.

Read more here.

TEDx Tackles the Plight of Farmworkers

On Friday, October 14, at Mills College in Oakland, TEDxFruitvale: Harvesting Change brought together farmworkers, farmers, activists, artists, students, professors, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs to celebrate the people upon whom we depend to harvest our food. In three sessions – Meet, Movement, and Money – a diverse cast of speakers provided a 360-degree view of farmworkers today and throughout history; compared labor’s progress with other social justice movements; and ended by discussing how businesses could embrace fair labor practices. 

Watch the webcast here.

Perils and Pitfalls in Fair Trade Cotton 

A December 15th article by Bloomberg News exposed what it portrayed as forced child labor in an organic and fair-trade cotton program in Burkina Faso, which provided raw material for the lingerie line Victoria’s Secret. The US Department of Homeland Security is also investigating the matter. However, Fairtrade International (FLO) and the Burkina National Union of Cotton Workers have countered the allegations within the Bloomberg piece. While the jury may be out on the specifics in this case, fair trade has opened the eyes of many to the risks of child labor in various commodities, including cotton.

Read more here.

Equal Exchange’s Campaign for Authentic Fair Trade

Equal Exchange, one of the founding fair trade organizations in the United States, has issued a call to action to ensure that small farmer co-operatives remain at the center of the fair trade movement. Equal Exchange believes 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.

Read more here.

“Fair Trade Says No to GMOs”

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) are plants or animals where the DNA has been artificially altered by genes from other plants, animals, viruses, or bacteria, in order to produce foreign compounds. This type of genetic alteration is not found in nature. Today, the majority of corn and soy grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered to produce pesticide and/or withstand high doses of weed killer. This corn and soy is found in countless processed foods such as cereals, baby foods, breads, chips, and many other products. GMOs are prohibited under FLO and IMO’s fair trade standards. To push back the spread and negative impact, a number of organizations and companies, including the Domestic Fair Trade Association and the Organic Consumers Association, have banded together to demand labeling of GMO products, including a petition to the US FDA and a citizen ballot initiative in California. 

Read more about California Ballot Iniative here.

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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 […]

Sustainable Public Procurement:

Sustainable Public Procurement

An Understated and Effective Way to Grow Fair Trade Sales of fair trade products have grown in leaps and bounds, especially in Europe. While this growth is encouraging, supply from producers in the Global South is well ahead of demand from consumers in the North. How do we close this gap? Here’s a practical guide […]

Trading Down: How Unfair Trade Hurts Farmers

United States farm incomes sharply declined in 2016 for the third year in a row. Prices for wheat and corn are currently at ten-year lows, and in many cases U.S. farmers are paid below the cost of production for what they produce. While these low prices hurt U.S. farmers, when the crops are exported by […]

Grow Ahead: Crowdfunding Climate Resilience

Fair World Project is launching Grow Ahead, an online crowdfunding platform. For the first time, individual consumers can forge an intimate link with front-line farmer groups, directly funding farmer initiatives and supporting the global effort to address climate change on the farm. Industrial agriculture and food production is a major contributor to climate change, and […]

Fair Cities

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    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, […]