Making Fair Trade Fair Game

For those of us who care about the well-being of farm workers, it is a scary time in the world of fair trade.

Fair Trade USA has decided to cut its ties with Fair Trade International to give itself the freedom to make changes in what kinds of products get its certification. Critics says that the changes will dilute the standards to the point of making the fair trade certification worthless, all while putting small scale farmers at risk. Fair Trade USA insists the changes will benefit poor farmers around the world and make it easier for large corporations to distribute goods that meet fair trade standards.

Read this recent New York Times article and decide for yourselves. Will the changes Fair Trade USA is making improve the lives of poor, small-scale farmers or will it just serve the interest of large corporations? Let us know what you think.

A tempest in a coffee pot is bubbling in the world of “fair trade,” the socially responsible food movement that seeks to lift farmers in the developing world out of poverty by offering them a premium for crops like coffee, cocoa and bananas. And the fight will soon reach your local Starbucks, Wal-Mart and Whole Foods.

Fair Trade USA, the movement’s leading advocate in the United States, angered critics by saying it would cut its ties at year’s end with the main international fair trade group and make far-reaching changes in the sorts of products that get its seal of approval.

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