Fair Trade USA (formerly TransFair USA) and its new initiative, Fair Trade For All, aims to expand fair trade certification to include coffee plantations. “Fair Trade for All” has been a major point of contention in Fair Trade USA’s split from Fairtrade International (FLO). For more on the Fair Trade USA/FLO split, see Fair World Project’s (FWP) statement. Putting aside the secretive and unilateral nature of the initiative, certifying coffee plantations has a number of critical problems.
Small producers and democratic cooperatives are core to the founding principles of the fair trade movement and market. By definition, small producers are vulnerable, excluded and under resourced in the global market. In the coffee sector, small farmers produce approximately 70% of the global coffee supply. Despite the current high prices in the coffee market, many fair trade coops are still unable to sell the majority of their coffee under fair trade terms. Expanding fair trade certification and market access to large-scale plantations will assure that fair trade cooperatives continue to remain vulnerable to volatile international markets and undermine 25 years of fair trade development. Importantly, consumers will be unable to distinguish between small farmer and cooperative coffee from plantation coffee. Learn more about fair trade and plantations by reading “Fair World Project Statement Regarding Coffee Plantations and Hired Labor.” Fair Trade activists have sent thousands of letters to FTUSA, Fairtrade Internaional and IMO in support of small farmers.