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Action Alert: Support Small Coffee Farmers! Stop “fair trade” coffee plantations

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. Read FWP's backgrounder for more information.

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, 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. 

FTUSA is moving forward with "fair trade" certification of coffee plantations in 2012. IMO's Fair for Life standards are scale neutral and allows for certification of hired labor operations in any sector, though IMO has yet to certify coffee plantations.  Fairtrade International (FLO) does not currently certify coffee plantations, though is under pressure to expand plantation certification to coffee and other sectors. Send a letter to the top three fair trade certifiers and urge them to continue supporting small coffee farmers by not certifying plantation coffee.

Fair Trade USA Standards Office


Fairtrade International (FLO)


IMO Fair For Life