Your thoughts on Fair-Trade (aka help me with my research)

So I'm sure a thread like this already exists, probably multiple, but I am doing research for a paper on fairly-traded coffee and was wondering if you would want to contribute thoughts, comments, experiences, etc. Being directly involved in the coffee industry, we certainly have different experiences and outlooks than some researchers and market analysts would. I want to get views from all sides, so try to keep responses to other people neutral, even if you absolutely disagree with them. Thanks everyone!

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Well ultimately I think Transfair is a good thing because the farmers are making more money and they are encouraged to produce in a more environmentally friendly manner. There are aspects that I do not agree with as well. Like the general idea that the public has of Fair Trade being of higher quality which is very untrue and well as some of the beurocracy behind the larger organizations. From the numbers that I have seen I think the cost that it takes for both roasters and farmers to become certified is unreasonable, mostly the farmer. The certification cost is in some cases thousands of dollars which 90% of the farmers in the world will never be able to pay. In my mind that make me think that for the most part the larger co-ops and plantations are the ones benefiting and smaller operations that could really use it are excluded. Also considering that Transfair has a pretty large staff that makes me think that allot of the extra money the consumer is paying for the cute little sticker on their bag is going toward their employees salaries. I understand that employees gotta eat though.
I am a strong supporter of independent Direct Trade programs. I understand that in most cases there is no third party certification for these programs but that is why the consumer should do research and buy from a reputable roaster if that is their passion. Most really good direct programs pay much higher margins to the farmers and growing communities than larger organizations.
I know that this posts seems snarky at times but these are just my objective opinions having plenty of experience with Transfair, California Certified Organic Farmers, and Independent Direct Trade Programs. I am by no means an expert and don't know every detail. They all have their downsides but they are all for the greater good. Also having worked with the agents of these organizations I can honestly say they are amazing people that have a passion for great coffee and ethical practices.
Here is a little light reading but I encourage you to contact people from Transfair, CCOF, and your reputable Direct Trade coffee company because they know much more about it than I do and their job is to educate so people will support their causes.

http://www.ethicalcoffee.net/

http://www.transfairusa.org/

http://ccof.org/

http://www.intelligentsiacoffee.com/help/frequently-asked-questions...

http://www.portlandroasting.com/ffd/
I would recommend emailing this question to the owners of some of the large companies that do Fair Trade only and the owner of the large companies that do Direct Trade programs. Get their takes on this issue and that would be an excellent paper. Then, post a link to your paper so that we can all read it!!
I agree.

Joe Marrocco said:
I would recommend emailing this question to the owners of some of the large companies that do Fair Trade only and the owner of the large companies that do Direct Trade programs. Get their takes on this issue and that would be an excellent paper. Then, post a link to your paper so that we can all read it!!
Geoff Watts' post to Green LA Girl three years ago is still probably the best explanation of alternatives to Fair Trade: http://greenlagirl.com/an-intelligentsia-email
Thanks for all the suggestions, I will for sure be looking into these websites, and emailing companies is a really good idea! I will post it when I'm done, which will be about another month.
Hi Lauren, I'd just like to add one thing. Our take on Fair Trade and other certification programs is that they are a great way to get consumers and coffee buyers involved and allow them to make choices that benefit coffee-farming families, but even with higher prices, coffee is still not enough for many of these families. There are millions of people who are completely dependent on coffee as their primary source of income and payday comes once a year.

Groups like Coffee Kids and others work with organizations in coffee-farming communities to create alternatives to coffee and help spur economic diversification. With more stable income, families can continue farming coffee and create opportunities in their communities. Let us know if you have any questions or would like any comments.

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