Matt will be presenting Saturday at the Hungry for Justice Conference at Baylor University on the topic of Justice in the Marketplace.
Mostly what will be discussed is Fair Trade, Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on , transparency and respect, that seek greater equity in international trade.
Fair trade is a growing international movement, ensuring that producers in developing countries engage in trade relationships that are fair. This means a fair price for their goods (one that covers the cost of production and guarantees a sustainable living); long-term contracts which provide real security; and, for many, support to gain the knowledge and skills they need to develop their businesses and sales. Fair trade attempts to remedy some of the injustices propounded by free trade by focusing on trading with poor and marginalized producer groups, helping them develop skills and sustainable livelihoods through trading relationships.
Although international trade has tripled in the last 20 years, the benefits have not been equitably distributed. The United States and Europe account for nearly 50% of world exports although representing only 10 % of the population, while the 48 least developed countries (also home to 10% of the world’s population) have had their share in world exports decline to 0.4% in the last two decades. Trade liberalization, enforced by the WTO, makes it increasingly difficult for small traders to compete in the global market. Although “free trade” claims to be in the interest of increased competition, multi-national companies are often the ones to benefit from subsidies and protections denied to small economies, putting poor and developing countries at a distinct disadvantage.
“Fair” means that producers receive:
- A price for their goods that covers the cost of production and guarantees a sustainable living.
- Long term contracts which provide real security and minimize vulnerability to shifting worldwide markets
- Support to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to further develop businesses and increase sales.
In a fair trade system, workers are paid a living wage in conditions that are safe and secure. Labor is voluntary and workers have a right to collective bargaining. Producers are guaranteed a fair price for the goods they produces, while being given the opportunity to pursue further learning and development. When possible, goods are produced locally so as to have minimal impact on local environments and promote sustainability in the future.
So where do I go from here:
1. Buy local when possible and ask about how your food or merchandise is produced. Buy Organic when possible to prevent workers from being contaminated with chemicals. Research the stores where you shop and companies that produce the products you buy.
2. Learn about and support Fair Trade: Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on , transparency and respect, that seek greater equity in international trade. Fair Trade products are crafted without slave labor or child labor and portions of the profit is invested into improving the communities where products are made. Fair trade coffee and other food items can be found at many stores. Fair Trade crafts and Jewelery as well as coffee, tea and chocolate can be purchased at World Hunger Relief, Inc.’s Village Store. Look for these logo’s (they are linked to the organizations websites so click them if you want to find out more):
3. Learn more about the setbacks and limitations in the Fair Trade movement. See the article below.
4. Recognize the effects of war and violence. Conflicts throughout the world disproportionately affect women, children and the poor. These conflicts often involve resources such as bananas and we are directly connected to them through what we buy.
5. Find creative ways to talk to your family, friends, church member and political leaders about Fair Trade and improving labor standards.
Fair Trade in Waco
The Village Store at World Hunger Relief
- Coffee, Tea (loose leaf and bagged), chocolate, cocoa, almonds, cranberries, as well as a variety of kitchen and housewares, clothing, handmade artwork, bags, scarves, jewelry, and instruments, etc.
356 Spring Lake Rd, Waco, TX 76705
Open 9-5 Mon-Fri, Sat 10-3
The World Cup Café
- Coffee, and a variety of kitchen and house wares, clothing, handmade artwork, bags, scarves, and jewelry
Corner of 15th and Colcord
Open 7-5 Mon-Fri
HEB @ Wooded Acres
- Coffee, Tea (loose leaf and bagged), Dr Bronner’s Soap, Sugar, Molasses as well as some World of Good Handcrafts.
- Coffee, Tea (bagged and in liquid concentrate for Chai Latte’s), chocolate chips, Vanilla, Sugar, Dr Bronner’s Soap
5900 Bosque Blvd
Connor Health Foods Inc
- Dr Bronner’s Soap, Sugar, and Tea.
2625 W Waco Dr
The following entry is taken from the blog of one of our partners in the Fair Trade movement. We have been thinking more about the direction of the movement in the last year. This article does a good job of lining out some of the struggles that will need to be dealt with if Fair Trade will live up to some of the promises that have been made.
Challenges to Fair Trade
posted 2010 Jul by Catherine Vouvray
by Alison Hanson
Since I began working with Handmade Expressions, I have become more conscious of the happenings within the Fair Trade movement – both its accomplishments and short-comings. While I am impressed with the recent expansion of Fair Trade, its actual reach and effect seem to be limited. Before Fair Trade can really continue to progress, it’s important for those within the movement to pause for a bit of self-reflection. Certain challenges to the Fair Trade movement exist in each level of the chain from production to consumption. Below are several that should be addressed:
- Overall Structure of Fair Trade: The system of Fair Trade itself was founded on contradictory principles. It was created to be an alternative market structure that would bring greater equity in trading relationships; however, it intends to do so within the very system that created such trade inequities. In essence, Fair Trade is in opposition to yet operates within a capitalist market system. It still promotes a consumerist mentality, though aims to alter the values of consumption – namely, the fixation on price. There is also a distinct division amongst those working within Fair Trade, taking either a faith-based or activist approach. Those working in Fair Trade need to reconcile their differences to establish the shape and direction of Fair Trade going forward.
- Producers: Despite the advancements in Fair Trade, producers have not shared equally in its progress. Fair Trade was created to bring benefits to the producers – market access and empowerment – yet, as of now, they are still at the mercy of Western markets and businesses. Though Fair Trade does indeed bring social and economic benefits to producers and their communities, those benefits are limited and not enough to truly bring marginalized producers out of poverty. Rarely are cooperatives able to compete and sell their goods on their own; rather, artisans and farmers constantly rely on employment and purchases from importing companies. This reinforces a paternalistic approach to trade and development, keeping producers under the control of businesses and labeling organizations in the US and Europe. If producers are to truly benefit, the focus of Fair Trade needs to shift towards empowerment and changing the system of trade.
- FT Labeling Organizations: The bureaucracy of the Fair Trade labeling and membership organizations causes skepticism from both those within and outside of the Fair Trade movement. There exist major discrepancies in certification on a product or company level. While producer organizations have to prove their commitment to sustainable practices, such a requirement becomes a barrier to participation in Fair Trade for many marginalized producers. Large businesses, on the other hand, don’t have to show anything. Standards for Fair Trade certification and membership need to be established, clarified, and enforced periodically, and should be homogeneous, regardless of whether the group is a small cooperative of producers or a large business.
- Businesses: A greater emphasis on education and a commitment to sustainability need to be implemented by all levels of business, from importers to retailers and large corporations. There are differences in the ways Fair Trade companies operate – following profit- or movement-driven strategies – which may or may not be compatible. The incorporation of Fair Trade products by large corporations has become a particular point of conflict. The enormity of these corporations has the potential to massively grow Fair Trade, both in regards to awareness-raising and fair employment. However, this has proven to be a double-edged sword, as corporations often instead use their voice to tout the company’s social commitment, regardless of the fraction of the product that actually is Fair Trade. Large and small companies alike need to have more than a short-term commitment to sustainable practices and use the resources they have to raise awareness about the impact purchasing Fair Trade products can have.
- Consumers: Consumer consciousness needs to be raised to complete the Fair Trade system. Though most people are aware of environmentally- and socially-sustainable materials and practices, these aspects usually don’t take priority in purchasing decisions. People must learn to shop responsibly. This requires a change in the values of consumption, placing those of sustainability over prices. Individuals must also demand accountability and support of fair practices by businesses and regulatory bodies. If Fair Trade is to operate within the current market system, consumers need to realize the impact of their purchasing power beyond that of monetary value.
A holistic approach to Fair Trade needs to be taken by those within the movement – empowering producers, defining standards within labeling and membership organizations, ensuring sustainable practices and transparency by intermediary companies, and educating and engaging consumers. An obvious issue that has been left out of the above is the potential impact of governmental regulations on fair labor practices and environmental standards. This is because we have yet to see what effect governments and regulations could really have on Fair Trade. Those within the movement need to take the first step in encouraging progress for Fair Trade.
Here are a could posts I put on another blog a while back.
Criticizing Fair Trade
In preparing for teaching a class on Fair Trade I began to think through what could be wrong with the idea of Fair Trade. Coffee growers getting a set price of about $1.35 per pound does not seem to be a bad deal at first consideration but then I began to think a little deeper. (according to Fair Trade researcher Christopher Bacon of the University of California, Berkeley, the per-pound price that’s needed for farmers to rise above subsistence is really more than $2)
What was it those guys were trying to hold onto in the early years, they wanted to stick with dealing crafts, stuff people liked making and were an integral part of their culture. (It is a pretty sweet deal to have people around the world thing that the crafts you learned from your parents are beautiful enough to display in their homes, that makes you think pretty highly of yourself. Today we are burned out on the idea of self esteem, we have seen how narcissistic kids get when they are given trophies just for playing a game and are told how great they are even when they are throwing a fit. But when you have lived in poverty your whole life and most people from around the world who have come into contact with you treat you with pity, it is a life changing, power shift to have people start telling you that you are good at something and they want to pay you decently for the stuff you make.) Why did these early craft dealers look down upon those folks that wanted to include commodities in the Fair Trade portfolio?
First they wanted to keep people from becoming commodity growers in the first place and instead to focus on food production for their own country. There is some value in this, but this argument doesn’t seem to hold much water any more as the threat of a global food shortage has at least temporarily past. The need for every farmer in the world to produce food is not as important, farmers everywhere will need to produce items that can be sold, and why criticize helping them grow what they can at the greatest profit possible to them. In a utopia it would be great that people might be able to grow what made them feel good but in reality cash is still king and growing what makes the most money is what is the best option for a woman who needs to send her kids to school and provide them with dresses that fit decently, might be coffee or sugar or something else that will not directly fill the bellies of her young.
The second argument follows on the first focusing more on the larger economic issues. I do not argue with my rejection or at least lack of sympathy with the first argument. But there becomes a problem when Fair Trade is successful, 800,000 farmers are partaking in fair trade arrangements, Fair Trade could bring in too many farmers into commodity production and result in over production. Their would not be low prices of coffee if there was a global shortage of coffee. So why are we encouraging more farmers to get into coffee production? Will an increase of fair trade coffee result in an even lower price of coffee for the rest of coffee farmers?
A Time Line of Fair Trade
In 1827 in Philadelphia Quakers staged a boycott of goods produced by slaves and foarmed the “Free Produce Society” the movement broadened to included other abolitionist groups but never became a threat to slavery and died out 30 years later”
Max Havelaar – a book published in 1859 this book described a fictional character Max Havelaar who left his life in Europe to work in solidarity with Indonesian workers. This is seen as one early attempt to bring awareness to the disparity between the wealth in Europe and the poverty experienced in other parts of the world.
North American and European churches providing relief to refugees and poverty-stricken communities this happened both in the rebuilding after the World Wars and then began to try to use these same techniques throughout the developing world, first in Latin America and then in to Africa and Asia. The first attempts were done really as charity with the crafts being a token for charitable gifts
(churches still play a major role in the movement) .
An interesting story is told by Roy Scott about his time working for Oxfam. The people working for Oxfam were buying cheap crafts and then selling them for large profits back in Europe. Roy claims that he is the one that challenged this technique and convinced Oxfam to move to create a new enterprise named Helping by selling in 1965. http://www.onevillage.org/fairtrade-history.htm
1970’s – 80’s
Churches and other groups began to use this model in Developing Countries.
falling coffee prices
Max Havelaar brand is created as the first fair trade coffee company.
international fair trade labeling
20 countries have fair trade labeling
Beginning to achieve noticeable market share