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Posted by Matt Earley at about 8am on Tuesday May 22, 2012
From April 30 to May 2 I attended the North American Fair Trade Stakeholder Summit in Minneapolis, MN. The point of the meeting was to bring together diverse members of the "fair trade movement" in order to address recent developments in the fair trade scene. The meeting included coffee producers, coffee roasters, food companies, importers, textile sellers, NGOs, church groups, tea vendors, farm workers, and students. Representatives came from as far away as Nicaragua, Italy, and Canada. With an ambitious agenda that focused on looking at FT's past, assessing its present challenges, and visioning its future, we engaged in lively debate and discussion with an eye toward coming to a consensus about how to move fair trade forward.
The four goals of the summit were to:
- Define Fair Trade and the movement, what they are and what they are not.
- Organize the North American Fair Trade movement under a coordinated infrastructure with a common vision.
- Reach agreement on a plan for cooperation and accountability within the movement.
- Develop a clear external message for the movement.
The discussions and debates over the three days made it clear that there is a lot to talk about. While a lot of common ground was found in our collective understanding of the principles of fair trade, there was respectful disagreement around a variety of topics. In an ideal world there would have been three days of plowing through complex issues resulting in a total consensus by all who attended. Instead we found that we all need to continue to come together over the next few months and work toward understanding and agreement on a number of topics.
Posted by Matt Earley at about 9am on Friday May 11, 2012
Recently several JCers had the distinct pleasure of attending the FUNDEPPO Small Producer's Symbol Kickoff in Portland, Oregon. The event-- aptly called "Dance with the Small Producer's Symbol"-- was something of a coming out party for the only fair trade certification that is farmer-owned and fully dedicated to small-scale and democratically organized producers.
The party got started with addresses by FUNDEPPO president Marvin Lopez Garcia and CLAC president Merling Preza who both celebrated the moment and spoke of the long road that brought the SPP to fruition. They made clear the importance of farmers inserting themselves into the certification movement as subjects and not simply as objects of verification schemes.
Next traders spoke about their participation in the new system. First Just Us Coffee's Jeff Moore recounted his co-op's history and their excitement over the opportunity to be a part of the new seal. Just Coffee Co-op's Matt Earley (yours truly) then talked about the importance of uniting around a farmer-owned label and how it would revolutionize fair trade. Monika Firl from Co-op Coffees spoke briefly and passionately about our commitment to making the new seal work. And Equal Exchange's Rob Evert's got the crowd pumped with a rousing homage to the SPP label.
After the speeches, and a couple of glasses of wine and/or beer, the crowd was ready for some dancing. While attendees signed a declaration of support, the DJ got busy with some pulsating latin dance and hiphop tunes. Before long the floor was full of sweaty fair traders cutting the proverbial rug with reckless abandon. After doing my best robot and busting out my most intense Kevin Bacon in Footloose impressions, I crawled off of the dance floor in exhaustion feeling certain I had given my all to "Dance with the Small Producer's Label". It should also be specially noted that the FLO contingent from Bonn were absolute maniacs on the dance floor.
In hindsight, I am certain that a movement that will soon be legendary was hatched that night. And I am not just talking about my awesome and ninja-like dance moves.
Posted by Matt Earley at about 10am on Monday March 12, 2012
Just Coffee Co-op is incredibly happy to announce our intention to partner with FUNDEPPO's (Foundation of Organized Small Producers) Small Producer Symbol (SPS) certification program. This new certification was started by the CLAC and is owned by producers and their cooperatives. We ere excited to participate in building the Small Producer Symbol into a widely recognized label that gives coffee drinkers the piece of mind that they are participating in real fair trade and supporting small-scale farmers and their democratically organized cooperatives.
Some of you may remember that JC left the FLO/TransFair certification system in 2004. We did so for many reasons that we have talked about at length for years. The most important of them being that large corporations were systematically taking over the "Fair Trade" system with their deep pockets while the voices and concerns of farmers and producers were effectively being shut out. Instead of seeking another third-party certification we instead built a system of transparency so that a third-party would have no "confidential information" to verify-- creating a direct link between our customers, ourselves, and the farmers we work with. We plan to continue striving for transparency in all of our practices, but we will also carry the SPS label that is the first certification owned and controlled by producers in the global south.
As fair trade continues to struggle over its identity and future, and as certification labels continue to pop out of the woodwork, it will become more challenging for the average person to discern what to buy according to the things that are most important to them. With the Small Producer Symbol we are re-affirming our commitment to farmers as being true partners in trade and in our lives-- we are truly connected. In our efforts to support and build true economic democracy we feel strongly that the farmers producing the amazing coffee that we all love are, and should be, co-owners of this movement for economic justice. Look for the label on our bags in the next few months as we get rolling with the SPS!
Please see www.yoursymbol.org for more information on the SPS and FUNDEPPO
Posted by mark the spark at about 5pm on Monday February 20, 2012
Comite Campesino del Altiplano (CCDA) began as a civilian support group for the Rebel Armed Forces (FAR) during the Guatmalan civil war. After being outlawed during the war and moving “underground”, they are now recognized as a “legitimate” political group in Guatemala. The CCDA works for land access, labour rights, human rights, and indigenous rights.
CCDA is an extraordinary organization doing incredible work in Guatemala. Their courage and vision are rare and important and we are very excited to bring you their most excellent coffee and to be working with them to promote a more just Guatemala and world.
Our medium roast Guatemalan is a varied and tasty cup: savor peaches, spearmint, lemon rind, orange blossom and almonds. Try it as a French press to bring out the more dynamic elements of its flavor profile.