By Emma Van Der Merwe, Media and PR Manager for Fairtrade Foundation.
In response to the on-going dairy farmers’ protests, Fairtrade Foundation’s Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Barbara Crowther, recently wrote a blog post on the Fairtrade Foundation’s website, entitled “Is it time for Fairtrade milk (again)?”
Here’s an excerpt:
“Shoppers in Asda in Stafford must have got a shock when they encountered two Friesian cows in the supermarket aisle. Following further price cuts from milk processors, dairy farmers have recently escalated their protests to a Milk Trolley Challenge removing their product from shop shelves because the price no longer even covers the cost of production.”
“They’re not alone. This is the refrain of so many farmers around the world, from cocoa to tea to bananas. It’s why banana farmers were in the UK last year knocking on the doors of government and the Fairtrade Foundation was asking the Government business department to launch its own investigation into the negative livelihood and sustainability impacts of price wars and cheap food. Sadly the Government reply merely said everything was working very nicely in the interests of consumers, thank you very much.”
It’s at this point of disconnect where Fairtrade comes in. Fairtrade was born from the needs of farmers and workers who often earn less than the US$2 per day, who live in countries with little or no social safety net, and are far removed from the markets they sell to.
But how exactly does Fairtrade work? Fairtrade works directly with businesses, consumers and campaigners to make trade deliver for farmers and workers. When you buy products with the FAIRTRADE Mark, you support farmers and workers as they work to improve their lives and their communities.
The Mark means that the Fairtrade ingredients in the product have been produced by small-scale farmer organisations or plantations that meet Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards. The standards include protection of workers’ rights and the environment, payment of the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in business or community projects.
With Fairtrade you have the power to change the world every day. With one simple choice you can get farmers a better deal. And that means they can make their own decisions, control their futures and lead the dignified life everyone deserves.
We would like to end off with another excerpt from Barbara’s blog:
“With the launch of new Sustainable Development Goals scheduled for September 2015, every government in the world will become accountable for delivery – including a shiny brand new goal (number 12 if you really want to know!) on Sustainable Production and Consumption.”
“Is this an opportunity to think afresh about the kind of mechanisms and regulations to address unfair trading practices in a comprehensive way? Could it even incentivise best practices in sustainable agriculture and fair trading? We in the Fairtrade Foundation think so. It would require a bit of vision, some progressive businesses to back it, the Fairtrade movement to champion it (we will!), and a government with the political will to make it happen.”
But in the meantime, let’s keep voting with our wallets and choosing the products and the shops that best represent the values we want to see become the norm in our food system, for all the farmers who produce it, both overseas and at home.