Mugged: Poverty in Your Coffee Cup from Oxfam:
The Lutheran World Relief Fair Trade Coffee Project:
Sept, 2002 - Over the past five years, the price of coffee has fallen almost 70 percent from a high in 1997, to a 30-year low, in many cases, forcing coffee farming families out of business. Small coffee farmers in developing countries sell their beans for less than they cost to produce. Meanwhile, the largest coffee corporations continue to reap enormous profits.
In this report, Oxfam calls for the major players in the coffee industry to support a Coffee Rescue Plan to overcome the current crisis and create a more stable market. The report analyzes the origins and effects of collapsed coffee prices and urges American consumers to join Oxfam in bringing relief to farmers and a change to the system.
Coffee is big business—it’s one of the most heavily traded commodities in the world. But for the majority of small-scale coffee farmers, the benefits are few.
Conventionally traded coffee involves a lengthy, and expensive, cast of middlemen between the coffee farmer and the consumer, each taking their share—or more—of the coffee price. What’s left for the farmers may not even cover their production costs or basic living expenses.
Overwhelmed with debt and unable to earn a consistent income, farmers are moving to the cities or migrating to other countries in search of work.
One answer for small-scale farmers is fair trade. Fair trade shares the bounty of the coffee trade with those who grow the crop, helping them build a better future for themselves and their communities.
By working together and pooling their resources to form a cooperative, farmers can sell their coffee directly to international buyers without relying on middlemen. Through fair trade, farmers receive a fair price that covers their cost of production and guarantees them a living wage for their labors.
The United States consumes one-fifth of all the world's coffee, making it the largest consumer in the world. But few Americans realize that agriculture workers in the coffee industry often toil in what can be described as "sweatshops in the fields." Many small coffee farmers receive prices for their coffee that are less than the costs of production, forcing them into a cycle of poverty and debt.
Fair Trade is a viable solution to this crisis, assuring consumers that the coffee we drink was purchased under fair conditions. To become Fair Trade certified, an importer must meet stringent international criteria; paying a minimum price per pound of $1.26, providing much needed credit to farmers, and providing technical assistance such as help transitioning to organic farming. Fair Trade for coffee farmers means community development, health, education, and environmental stewardship.
Presbyterian Coffee Project
Catholic Relief Services - Fair Trade
I buy all my coffee from Dean's Beans. I love their Oromia Blend (which I use for espresso) and their Costa Rican French Roast (which I use for drip coffee).
All of Dean's Beans coffee is 100% Fair Trade and Organic. The prices are very competitive.
Another Fair-Trade coffee vendor is Equal Exchange, and there are a whole lot of others.
technorati: social action, justice, coffee, fair trade