Photo: Nick Olejniczak (flickr)
Do you know where your cup of coffee came from? With changes in effect to Fair Trade USA, it may be even harder to trace.
President of Fair Trade USA Paul Rice announced the organization would be splitting from the world fair trade organization FLO in January.
Rice argued FLO was inconsistent with its certifications, with coffee being impacted the most.
David Vs. Goliath
Currently, world standards dictate that to be certified fair trade, coffee must be grown in small cooperatives. Fair Trade USA’s split means large farms can be certified fair trade.
This troubles small farmers as the cornerstone of the movement was to support the little guy. By inviting large farms into the Fair Trade USA certification, the door is open for corporations to receive the label.
Coffee giants like Starbucks have resisted using more fair trade coffee in part because they deal with large farms, not the co-ops that the international fair trade community supports. By certifying the large farms, Starbucks gets the best of both worlds — they meet demands to supply so-called fair trade coffee while not having to change their business model.
Fair trade means farmers are paid a living wage and they sell their products directly to the market for higher prices than standard products.