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  1. #11
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    I was not insinuating that the fair trade foundation was corrupt...just was wondering how much actually goes to the farmer...As to the other comment....My point was if I can not make my business work...I need to find a new line of work....am I wrong on that?
    "Wine is for aging, not coffee."
    Ken Hutchinson, Starsky and Hutch

  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by topher
    I was not insinuating that the fair trade foundation was corrupt...just was wondering how much actually goes to the farmer...As to the other comment....My point was if I can not make my business work...I need to find a new line of work....am I wrong on that?
    I recognise that I've only got direct experience of the UK based organisation (and there only as a semi-informed consumer) so I was just being careful not to overstate my expertise. On the page:

    http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/food_coffee.htm

    they say:
    In 2003, Fairtrade producer groups are receiving three times the international price for robustas and double the international price for arabicas.
    but the price in the supermarket is directly comparable to equivalent products so I'm reasonably confident they're not skimming off the top (beyond reasonable costs).

    On the point about not artificially supporting a failing business, I see where you're coming from. The downside of applying this to coffee producers is that, firstly, the international market has pushed prices too low so that would drive a lot of people out of coffee production (so we'd all have to drink soy substitutes instead) and also that coffee farmers who move to another production area often choose the much more 'rewarding' field of drugs.

    If we want coffee produced (and thus the market for all the susidiary industries like roasting and providing refreshments) we need to be willing to pay a fair price for the raw material. Of course, on the postive side, modern communications technology makes it much easier to 'shrink' the world and get closer to the source provider. As a roaster, are you in contact with any of the people who grow and pick the beans you use?

    Wulf

  3. #13
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    Wulf

    Here is where we lose it you wrote
    After all, there are plenty of examples where 'free' economies choose to buy goods from 'oppressive' economies because they benefit. Imagine the farmer in the neighbouring valley finds some way to sell his eggs for less than the production cost of the original farmers... while the ethical response would be to negotiate with the local suppliers to find an agreed realistic price level, the free approach would probably be to buy from the guy over the hill and force the first lot of farmers out of their jobs.
    This is were westeren thought differs from the rest of the world. If the guy who can't sell his eggs because someone else can sell them cheaper he has 2 choices. 1) Invest in whatever it takes to make his eggs cost less or 2) Get out of the egg selling business. We will both admit that the world only has so many resources right? Well I dont want anyone who is in-efficiant wasting our precious resources. The invisible hand will weed out those who dont stay ahead of the game. The guy who cant sell his eggs anymore doesn't deserve to sell eggs anymore. Also, I picked up that "imperialistic" line is that what we call a backhanded compliment in the states.

    Ron[/quote]

  4. #14
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    So what if the guy with the impossibly cheap eggs achieves this economic wonder by keeping thousands of chickens in tiny dark cages? It's over the hill so you don't suffer the sight and stench of the battery farm but does that mean that it's a better method than the free range farmers who live nearer to you?

    Excuse the pun, but I don't buy the argument that cheaper is better (or necessarily more sustainable). The "invisible hand" could work if everyone played fairly in negotiating a price that was agreed as fair - it sounds like this is what happened in your earlier example:
    The next time the farmers showed up at the market their prices were more inline with what the citizens thought was acceptable and the farmers sold everything they brought. After that the market was set and the markets flourished.
    However, if some of the players have the economic wherewithal to artificially force their prices below the competition - which is somewhat easier if they're not the primary producers and don't suffer privations caused by a depressed market - then it's not so much an invisible hand of justice as a very heartless one that is ruling the market.

    Fair trade isn't about subsidising someone to lounge around in the sun all day on a perpetual holiday. It is about trying to ensure that the people who produce the coffee have the same facility to provide for themselves and their families by honest labour as those protected by labour laws in Western societies.

    Wulf

  5. #15
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    So what if the guy with the impossibly cheap eggs achieves this economic wonder by keeping thousands of chickens in tiny dark cages? It's over the hill so you don't suffer the sight and stench of the battery farm but does that mean that it's a better method than the free range farmers who live nearer to you?
    This logic does not work, you automaticley have taken the position that the only way the farmer can sell his eggs cheaper is by mistreating his chickens. What if the guy found a feed mixture that he invented or found a method to produce eggs that was just plain more efficent. Over time the invisible hand will take the people who take short cuts and dont reinvest their profits back into the company and it will smash them into the ground. The problem is that we want that to happen overnight, thats a fantasy world Wulf these things take time and they are sometimes cruel. I mean someone losing their livley hood is awful, but to me whats even worse is if we support organiations that waste our prescious natural resources. What I am saying if left alone the invisible hand will make for " Fair Trade". Once the dictators are removed and the market is left the set the price of what is fair the inefficent farmers will be weeded out, the farmers who stay ahead of the competition who master the craft are going to be the ones who have made the best use of our limited resource. The laws should not protect farmers or busineses that waste our resources, the only way that happens is in free markets.

    On a lighter note Wulf, Thanks for engaging me in this discussion I appreciate your positon, believe it or not we may be closer to agreeing on alot of things than we both realize. I am an a Human Resources student and business owner at a local university in Ohio. I own an online coffee and tea store (see profile) that I have had for about a year. I am also a dad to two beautiful children age 21 months and age 5. Check them out at www.caringbridge.com/page/emmahall . What about you.

    Ron

  6. #16
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    I'll ponder over the weekend (in the meanwhile, I've got work to do in my role as a web designer for my local hospital ) - perhaps some others could chip in.

    However, I'm not suggesting that we should pay extra in order to support inefficient methods - as I understand it, Fair Trade is about a more efficient use of money in supporting the producers rather than having it syphoned off by other people exploiting the system along the way - the principle of an honest days pay for an honest days work.

    I will definitely agree that it's a stimulating discussion to have though

    Wulf

 

 
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