Fair Trade Coffee

Have you ever wondered who produced the beans that were used to make your favorite cup of coffee? Well, most of them are farmers in third world countries that make very little income on farming coffee all year round. Coffee farmers don't get enough profit from selling coffee beans to multinational corporations to have a decent living. There is a new movement now that is called fair trade, which was created in order to improve the situation of farmers. Fair trade means that there is a fair and equitable partnership between consumers, mostly from "first-world" countries like the United States of America and producers, mostly from agricultural countries in Asia, Latin America and Africa. The main concern of this movement is to ensure that the majority of the world's coffee farmers get a fair price for the harvest that they sell so that they can earn a decent living. Fair trade coffee is one of the first products that is being introduced in countries like the United States that has a monitoring system that is independent from governing bodies to ensure that it coffee was produced under fair labor conditions.

Why is the fair trade coffee movement so significant? Coffee is one of the most heavily traded products, behind petroleum. In the United States, it is the largest food export. Because of this, it offers one of the most promising avenues to bring about change. This movement if focused on the small farmer, the producer of majority of the world's coffee. Also being that it is widely traded and consumed, it greatly impacts the economic well-being of a lot of coffee farmers in "third world" countries. Fair trade coffee beans are guaranteed a minimum price of $1.26 per pound, regardless of fluctuation of prices in the commodities market. This guarantees that farmers get a decent profit from selling their produce. Also, this protects coffee farmers from fluctuating coffee market prices if it falls extremely low. Also the fair trade coffee movement gives credit to farmers during months between harvests so that they are not forced take a loan using the future harvests as a collateral to middle men who give them extremely low prices so that they can have cash for the slow months. Without access to credit, a lot of farmers are not able to take advantage of selling their harvests at fair trade prices. That's why giving access to credit is built into the fair trade licensing criteria for importers.