Tag Archive for: USA

What Happened to Our scaa and Appreciation — The View

Categories: 2013, OctoberTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Back in the early 1990’s, when I was much younger and extremely naïve, I was on the out­side of the SCAA look­ing in. I had heard some good things, but my per­sonal expe­ri­ence was that there was a lack of respect and car­ing. What did I do? Being a young, feisty new pub­lisher, I wrote an arti­cle about the orga­ni­za­tion express­ing my concerns.

Well that started my jour­ney into the inside of the asso­ci­a­tion. The result of my “rant” was being invited to the SCAA com­mit­tee meet­ings in Minneapolis, MN and get­ting to see first hand the pas­sion of the vol­un­teers. Then, as well as now, it is the vol­un­teers who are the heart and soul of this orga­ni­za­tion. It was an amaz­ing eye opener and I was sold. I became a ded­i­cated vol­un­teer next 15 years serv­ing on, co-chairing, and chair­ing committees.

Unfortunately, pol­i­tics hap­pen. Changes in lead­er­ship, changes in atti­tude hap­pen. Being a vol­un­teer is a tricky thing with the SCAA. One day you are on a com­mit­tee, or even co-chairing the com­mit­tee, and the next, you find out your com­mit­tee no longer exists and you are not invited to the annual meet­ings. Yes, you must be “invited”, or you are sim­ply not wel­come to attend. It doesn’t mat­ter if you have already pur­chased your non-refundable plane ticket, your name is “not on the list”, and you sim­ply are not invited. I know of at least three of us “old timers” who have expe­ri­enced this very thing, and I assume there are more of us out there.

Okay, I really do under­stand there comes a time to make way for the next gen­er­a­tion. New vol­un­teers who want to give back to the indus­try. New mem­bers who sim­ply want to become “involved.” Unfortunately, it appears that some things never change. Just this sum­mer, a brand new mem­ber of SCAA and Roasters Guild was excited about the oppor­tu­nity to vol­un­teer after I had encour­aged her to “get involved.” It went some­thing like this….

  • Call the SCAA and let them know you want to help! (She did, no response.)
  • I called the SCAA and let them know of this member’s desire. This mem­ber has a par­tic­u­lar set of skills and back­ground to be truly use­ful in the upcom­ing Seattle Events. I asked if some­one could call her, as she had no response from her first attempt to vol­un­teer. I was promised this would happen.
  • She was tele­phoned and told that no such com­mit­tee exists. She was not offered any sug­ges­tion for how she could become involved. She didn’t men­tion this to any­one, think­ing this is just how the orga­ni­za­tion is. I found out weeks later about this and was embar­rassed that she had been treated in such a way. I made another call to the SCAA staff mem­ber, again ask­ing she be invited to vol­un­teer (you know… give her time and money to help the asso­ci­a­tion). Result: one voice­mail and zero follow-ups again.
  • Finally, while I was at the com­mit­tee meet­ings this last week­end, I was able to find a staff mem­ber who actu­ally did appear to care about mem­bers and even appre­ci­ate the offer of help. Dorit, you rock! The end result, I believe she will now be allowed to vol­un­teer. Success! I promised her that once she was actu­ally involved, she would see the pas­sion of the vol­un­teers and it would be a reward­ing experience.

So how did I end up being invited back to a com­mit­tee? The same way I was invited to my first com­mit­tee expe­ri­ence back in 1995. I sent “rant” out into the SCAA uni­verse, but this time only as an email cc’ing the SCAA Board and Roasters Guild Council. It seems the only way to “help” the SCAA is to make a pub­lic com­plaint. I could go on for awhile with this topic, but thank­fully for all of you, our space is lim­ited. However, given my con­tact with so many mem­bers with this cen­tral theme of lack of appre­ci­a­tion and more, I would encour­age the SCAA lead­er­ship to explore this appre­ci­a­tion topic in greater depth.

Questions I would love to see addressed by the lead­er­ship of the SCAA:

Why is it so hard to vol­un­teer and what hap­pened to com­mon cour­tesy?
Here is a quote from another Old Timer I spoke with just yes­ter­day, “I was a com­mit­tee chair. I called the SCAA office… to find out when their plan­ning ses­sion was and I talked to a staff mem­ber. He said… oh, um, well it’s com­ing up on such and such but you are not on a com­mit­tee. I said oh really, I am on that com­mit­tee. He said no, we dis­banded that com­mit­tee. No notice, noth­ing. We worked our butts off on that com­mit­tee. Why would they get rid of the com­mit­tee and not notify the sit­ting members?”

As told to a cur­rent mem­ber think­ing about run­ning for the board by a cur­rent board mem­ber in the last 30 days: “If you think that get­ting on the board of direc­tors is a demo­c­ra­tic process that is elected by the mem­bers, you are wrong. The can­di­dates that run ARE the can­di­dates that are going to get elected.”

When was the last time the SCAA appre­ci­ated its Exhibitors… those com­pa­nies that account for the largest per­cent­age of your income?
Here is a com­ment from a for­mer exhibitor, “Not only were we an exhibitor,we were also a dues pay­ing, card car­ry­ing mem­ber of the SCAA. The cal­lous and cav­a­lier atti­tude of the SCAA staff forced us to decide never exhibit again with SCAA, nor con­tinue our allied mem­ber­ship. And this was after being a mem­ber and exhibitor for sev­eral years.”

A for­mer poten­tial exhibitor told us, “We have cho­sen not to join the SCAA because you would expect lead­er­ship in the indus­try. After sev­eral attempts, we were not able to find out within even a 10 per­cent mar­gin of error how many cof­fee shops there are in the USA. If any­one should know, it should be them. If they won’t pro­vide the lead­er­ship, we should. We will not be joining.”

How about this com­ment,“We have exhib­ited at many of the related Coffee and Food Service shows (not only the SCAA event) over the years, where the SCAA has had a booth exhibit­ing what they do, mem­ber­ship ben­e­fits and that sort of thing.  Not once, in all those years, despite our post­ing a printed place card show­ing our mem­ber­ship, did any­one from SCAA stop by the booth to just say hello, or ask if there was any­thing they could do for us, or just show their thanks for the sup­port­ing mem­ber­ship etc. Nothing.”

And this com­ment, “We have felt for a few years now that the orga­ni­za­tion really did not care too much about the exhibitors, despite exhibitors being the lifeblood of any tradeshow/convention. And now they want pay­ment two years in advance!!! No way. I run a busi­ness, I have my own bills to pay, salaries to pay etc. They think I am going to tie up money two years in advance to be a sim­ple exhibitor? Nope, not going to hap­pen here. NO show is that good!”

A past exhibitor shares their story: “Last year, our com­pany suf­fered a ter­ri­ble period of time where due to ill­ness and an acci­dent, our trade show staff was just dec­i­mated. We had to can­cel our show par­tic­i­pa­tion just prior to the can­cel­la­tion dead­line, as we were just not in a posi­tion to ade­quately staff our nor­mal booth. We sent in all the required paper­work etc., in the man­ner required etc. We never got a con­fir­ma­tion, or any reply back that the paper­work and can­cel­la­tion request was received, accepted, or any­thing for that mat­ter. The only way we were able to con­firm it, was that on the show floor plan lay­out, our booth had been reas­signed. But noth­ing sent to us con­firm­ing etc.  We had to con­tact repeat­edly to get any response. On top of that, the refund never came, and we were told we had to con­tact some­one else in account­ing in their office!And then the per­son we con­tacted, shuf­fled it off on some­one else. Incredible. We were already deal­ing with major has­sles due to the ill­ness and acci­dent recov­ery of our staff, and these clowns couldn’t even acknowl­edge a can­cel­la­tion as per their own require­ments, and they were too lazy to walk the paper­work across their own office.”

A mem­ber com­ments, “I belong to two other asso­ci­a­tions. When I need their help I can find staff more than will­ing to help. They make me feel like they are work­ing for me, what a great feel­ing right? When I call the SCAA, I feel like I have reached the wrong num­ber. As a “First Responder,” I gave to them even when it was hard for us to do so. But to give was what I felt was the right thing to do. Does any­one even know what a “First Responder” is any­more and what they did to save the SCAA? Why do I feel like I need to watch my back when I attend ‘The Event’?”

I think it is high time the asso­ci­a­tion lead­er­ship under­stands that SCAA’s “The Event” is NOT the only option out there. In fact, one for­mer exhibitor states, “I have exhib­ited as a Roaster in my own home town and it gen­er­ated lit­tle results. My impres­sion is the attendee at the SCAA show is the roaster and the attendee for Coffee Fest is the retailer. It just makes more sense to exhibit at Coffee Fest if you sell to retailers.”

SCAA: It is time to respect and appre­ci­ate your exhibitors, or lose them to another show.

And this par­tic­u­lar com­ment is very telling. Imagine how this cur­rent exhibitor must feel to have this response to my ques­tion of their opin­ion of the SCAA staff: “I can’t really go there. It’s a pretty bru­tal orga­ni­za­tion. Been there and learned that impetu­ous actions with folks like them bite you back. Next thing you know you’re in a booth between the bath­rooms and the food concession.”

Favoritism… Are you treat­ing your mem­bers equally and fairly?
Is it really okay give all of the expo­sure and/or oppor­tu­nity to one par­tic­u­lar mem­ber of the com­pany when there are 5 or 6, or more that are in the exact same cat­e­gory and can pro­vide the exact same ser­vice? Since when does the SCAA staff get to say, “We like that rela­tion­ship. We don’t have any record of how it hap­pened, but we like it and will not but out a bid or RFP, or even bring it up with the board. It is our deci­sion.” Even when asked about the oppor­tu­nity for the orga­ni­za­tion to review if this is the best fis­cal choice to be made for the SCAA Budget. This empow­ered atti­tude of “we will do what we please and there is noth­ing you can do about it” is a recipe for dis­as­ter and can only be fixed if the atti­tude changes from the top down.

SCAA Mission / Strategic Plan… when did it become all about the money?
I found the fol­low­ing on the SCAA web­site: “It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that SCAA is a non-profit, which exists solely for the ben­e­fit of its mem­bers.” And yet, at every turn what I actu­ally hear about is bring me the money. The cur­rent strate­gic plan pre­sented by the SCAA President of the Board had the fol­low­ing three top objec­tives: increase rev­enue, diver­sify income, and increase net assets. Sorry, but where was the focus on actu­ally ben­e­fit­ing mem­bers? I really do under­stand that the asso­ci­a­tion, or any orga­ni­za­tion, must be fis­cally respon­si­ble to be able to con­tinue to serve its mis­sion. However, with­out a focus from the top down on appre­ci­a­tion, the deci­sions seem to have become, how can the SCAA make money, not focus on its mem­bers. To me, this is very short-term think­ing. Without mem­bers, there is NO SCAA.

And as long as I seem to be on a once every 20-year rant, when did it become okay for a trade asso­ci­a­tion whose mis­sion is to ben­e­fit its mem­bers, to become com­pe­ti­tion to their own mem­ber­ship. It seems like more and more I am see­ing SCAA sell­ing things their mem­ber com­pa­nies used to sell. Again, it goes back to the atti­tude… If they exist to make money (funny for a non-profit?), that this makes sense. What was the strate­gic plan focus on again this year: increase rev­enue? What about increas­ing rev­enue for their members?

It would be easy to think, “oh the heck with them!” But then I expe­ri­ence a few staff mem­bers that actu­ally DO care. And I hear them speak directly about mem­ber value. Ildi Revi, just pre­sented an amaz­ing IDP class in Seattle, WA and her com­mit­ment to mem­bers is some­thing to be applauded. The resources of the SCAA are truly amaz­ing. Or rather, they can be, if you know how to find them and ask the cor­rect peo­ple. So no, it is not time to throw out the baby with the bath water. But rather, maybe it is time for lead­er­ship to exam­ine their atti­tudes so that the entire orga­ni­za­tion can be more like those few indi­vid­u­als that are ded­i­cated to ben­e­fit­ing membership.

And back to the begin­ning: Appreciation
Appreciation… CoffeeTalk truly appre­ci­ates all of the amaz­ing work being done in this indus­try to give back. This is pre­cisely why we began ded­i­cat­ing our July issue each year com­pletely to Making A Difference years ago. It is impor­tant to give back. Whether it is your organization’s mem­bers, groups within the com­mu­nity, and/or those in need.

The Making a Difference issue as you may know, high­lights the var­i­ous non­profit orga­ni­za­tions around the world striv­ing to make a dif­fer­ence in the cof­fee com­mu­nity. These orga­ni­za­tions put their own needs aside, and they help oth­ers first with­out expect­ing to receive some­thing in return. Each non­profit orga­ni­za­tion fea­tured in this issue sub­mit­ted a full-page story. This enabled them to not only spread the word about their cause, but it allowed read­ers and mem­bers of the com­mu­nity to join them in their mis­sion and help make a difference.

We are proud to announce the win­ner of our 2013 July Making a Difference view/click con­test and the recip­i­ent of a $1,000 per­sonal dona­tion for their cause from CoffeeTalk own­ers Kerri & Miles: Pueblo a Pueblo: Maternal Child Health and Education. This pro­gram is designed to reduce the excep­tion­ally high mater­nal and infant mor­tal­ity rates among the T’zutujil Maya in Santiago Atitlan region. MCH cre­ates a con­sis­tent, one-to-one part­ner­ship between inter­na­tional spon­sors and Guatemalan fam­i­lies, giv­ing moth­ers and their chil­dren cru­cial med­ical and edu­ca­tion sup­port.
You can check out these sto­ries, as well as the sev­eral oth­ers fea­tured in this year’s issue online in the back issues sec­tion of the website.

It is when a small spark is lit that a fire of change can spread. Please, be inspired and make a difference.

Kerri & Miles

Rust Response

Categories: 2013, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Fair Trade USA 1Project Description
With open lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion to 244 pro­ducer orga­ni­za­tions in Latin America, and strong rela­tion­ships within the North American cof­fee indus­try,  Fair Trade USA oper­ates at a strate­gic inter­sec­tion of cof­fee com­merce.  Historically, the orga­ni­za­tion has used this unique per­spec­tive to con­nect farm­ers with buy­ers and fund­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties.  During a cri­sis, Fair Trade USA’s role as a con­nec­tor within the sup­ply chain becomes even more valueable.

The entire cof­fee sup­ply chain is keenly aware that Rust, or Roya, is an unig­nor­able and poten­tially dev­as­tat­ing force rapily encroach­ing on Latin American cof­fee supply.

Roya is caused by the fun­gus, Hemileia Vastatrix. It infects indi­vid­ual cof­fee leaves and inhibits the cof­fee plant’s abil­ity to pro­duce cher­ries.  Coffee farms in Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and El Salvador are among the most affected. Experts claim the out­break could decrease cof­fee pro­duc­tion for the 2013–2014 har­vest by up to 50 percent.

Producers on the front lines of the rust bat­tle des­per­ately need both fund­ing and edu­ca­tion to save their crops and liveli­hoods.  Thus, Fair Trade USA is imple­ment­ing a multi-faceted response to the rust cri­sis that includes tak­ing imme­di­ate action through the Rust Response Fund and enabling pro­ducer orga­nized actions funded with the Fair Trade Premium Funds.

The Rust Response Fund
The Rust Response Fund is a small grant pro­gram that funds projects designed to mit­i­gate and pre­vent rust. All Fair Trade Certified cof­fee coop­er­a­tives are eli­gi­ble to sub­mit project pro­pos­als to the Rust Response Fund.  The fund is financed by Fair Trade USA, with sup­port from busi­ness part­ners and indi­vid­ual dona­tions.  All dona­tions are passed along to win­ning pro­ducer groups to fund actions com­bat­ting rust.  Grants up to $25,000 each are dis­trib­uted to win­ning pro­pos­als.  The Rust Reponse Fund is an effi­cient way to sup­port imme­di­ate, farmer led, action on the groud against rust.

Recent win­ners of project fund­ing from the Rust Response Fund include COMSA coöper­a­tive in Honduras. COMSA is putting $20,000 in grant fund­ing towards strength­en­ing their cof­fee plants to be more resis­tant to rust through the use of organic fer­til­iz­ers and other inno­v­a­tive tech­niques.   More infor­ma­tion on this project can be found here:öperative-small-grants-program

Fair Trade USA, with the help of an exter­nal selction com­mit­tee, will award $50,000  towards two addi­tional projects ($25,000 each) this summer.

Producer Lead Initiatives
In addi­tion to grant fund­ing, many pro­ducer orga­ni­za­tions have elected to invest a por­tion of their Fair Trade Premium in efforts to pre­vent and mit­i­gate rust.

The Guatemalan Fair Trade coo­peative FEDECOCAGUA is using 30 per­cent of its Fair Trade pre­mium to fund “Anti-Rust Brigades.”  FEDECOCAGUA’s “Anti-Rust Brigades” employ technologically-efficient, motor­ized sprayers to com­bat the fun­gus in the most afflicted areas using nat­ural botan­i­cal fungi­cides. This environmentally-friendly prod­uct, made from the Neem tree, will be used on both con­ven­tional and cer­ti­fied organic cof­fee crops.

The Guatemalan pro­ducer orga­ni­za­tions ASOCHAJUL and ASOBAGRI are also invest­ing Fair Trade Premium funds to pur­chase fumi­ga­tion equipt­ment and imple­ment “Anti-Rust Brigades.”   Additionally, ASOBAGRI has invested $13,000  of its Fair Trade Premium funds in pur­chas­ing sup­plies to mass pro­duce and dis­trib­ute organic fer­til­izer to their members.

Together, COMSA, FEDECOCAGUA, ASOCHAJUL and ASOBAGRI are slow­ing the spread of rust with these grant and pre­mium funded projects while pro­vid­ing a suc­cess­ful model for other orga­ni­za­tions to adapt.

Who Benefits from this project?
Small-scale farm­ers in Latin America are par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to rust due to high poverty lev­els and the inabil­ity to invest in proper pre­ven­tion tech­niques. Donating to the Rust Response Fund and pur­chas­ing Fair Trade Certified cof­fee enables coop­er­a­tives such as COMSA, ASOBAGRI, ASOCHAJULFEDECOCAGUA, and many oth­ers to assist their mem­bers in defend­ing their cof­fee plants against rust.

We are proudly and enthu­si­as­ti­cally car­ry­ing out our project work every day to pro­tect our mem­bers’ crops”  – Sonia Vasquez, COMSA Coöperative, Honduras

How Can I Help?
Get Involved!  Purchasing Fair Trade Certified cof­fee increases the amount of Fair Trade Premium funds avail­able to coop­er­a­tives to pre­vent and mit­i­gate rust.  Additionally, you can con­tribute to the Rust Respone Fund here:

100 per­cent of dona­tions will be directly passed on to Fair Trade pro­ducer orga­ni­za­tions to fund rust pre­ven­tion projects.

Contact Name:     Laura Ann Sweitzer
Location:     Oakland, CA, USA
Email Address:
Phone Number:     510.663.5260 x375

Economic Development through Savings, Micro-Credit, and Textiles

Categories: 2013, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Project Description
The munic­i­pal­ity of San Gaspar, Chajul is located 275 kilo­me­ters Northwest of Guatemala City, in the depart­ment of Quiché. Along with the munic­i­pal­i­ties of Santa Maria Nebaj and San Juan Cotzal, it makes up the home­land of the Maya Ixil eth­nic group. In an area that was badly hit dur­ing the Guatemalan civil war, Chajul has, since the late 80s, become a pro­ducer of one the finest Fairtrade organic cof­fees in the coun­try, through the help of the Association Chajulense La Unión, an asso­ci­a­tion of cof­fee farm­ers brought together by Rosolino Bianchetti, a Catholic priest.

By 2006, the asso­ci­a­tion of cof­fee farm­ers employed nearly 500 women to sort cof­fee by hand. That same year, due to the need to reduce costs, the orga­ni­za­tion intro­duced con­veyor belts for the sort­ing process, which resulted in the lay­off of 300 women. With the sup­port of Chajulense and other con­sul­tants, the women joined together to deter­mine what they could do after los­ing their jobs. Fifty women decided to orga­nize them­selves to look for oppor­tu­ni­ties to con­tinue grow­ing and learn­ing. And so begins the story of the Chajulense Women United for Life.

The women began pro­duc­ing and sell­ing weav­ings, a project inher­ited from the Chajulense Association, and in 2007 they formed a micro-credit pro­gram to launch and encour­age pro­duc­tive projects. In the weav­ing pro­gram, 50 women cre­ate prod­ucts that are exported to the USA and Europe, along with sales in Guatemala. They are high qual­ity, long last­ing prod­ucts cre­ated on back strap looms and foot looms that don’t fray or lose their color.

To date, the asso­ci­a­tion con­tin­ues to grow and the credit pro­gram has pro­vided credit to 675 women at a low inter­est rate. The women need to orga­nize into groups of 15 to 25 mem­bers and offer a sol­i­dar­ity guar­an­tee; that is to say, if one of the women doesn’t pay back the credit, the rest of the group will pay. For that rea­son the women are very care­ful with whom they allow in their groups. Each of the groups has their own board of direc­tors that sup­ports in the admin­is­tra­tion of the credit. In the last two years, the credit pro­gram has had 0 per­cent default rate, mean­ing that every group has been able to make all of their pay­ments. Additionally, the asso­ci­a­tion asks the groups to main­tain 10 per­cent of the money they receive dur­ing the year in a sav­ings account at a bank. The sav­ings helps them build up work­ing cap­i­tal. For the major­ity of the women this is the first time they have ever been able to save money.

The asso­ci­a­tion also pro­vides finan­cial lit­er­acy train­ing where the women learn to be bet­ter admin­is­tra­tors at home and in their busi­ness deal­ings, mak­ing bud­gets and main­tain­ing a reg­is­ter of income and expenses. This train­ing is based on train­ing from the insti­tu­tion, Save the Children. Another ser­vice offered by the asso­ci­a­tion is a small insur­ance pro­gram, which helped when one mem­ber died. The asso­ci­a­tion paid off her remain­ing credit and gave nearly $200 to the fam­ily to help cover funeral expenses.

To illus­trate the impor­tance of the asso­ci­a­tion of women in the mid­dle of this area that was dra­mat­i­cally affected by armed con­flict, we share the story of 55 year-old Maria Hu Mateo. Maria, with a fam­ily of eight chil­dren, saw her hus­band kid­napped at the begin­ning of the 80s. He was even­tu­ally freed as an inno­cent man, but he had been beaten badly. With time he fell in a deep depres­sion and became phys­i­cally ill until he could no longer work. Finally, Baltazar died in 2007 and Maria was left with six chil­dren to care for after two had married.

In the midst of a dif­fi­cult eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion, Maria joined the Chajulense Women’s Association and began a busi­ness sell­ing bas­kets and food in the local mar­ket. With a credit of just $1,000 she began earn­ing around $75 per month, a mod­est income with which she could raise her chil­dren and even send them to school.

Stories like Maria Hu’s are abun­dant in the asso­ci­a­tion, even though the cred­its are small (on aver­age $400), they make a dif­fer­ence in the women’s qual­ity of life. Chajul has a pop­u­la­tion of 42,000 in a zone where nearly 85 per­cent are at or below the poverty level, that is to say that more than 35,000 peo­ple live on less than $2 a day. In this con­text, the Chajulense Women’s Association con­tin­ues for­ward and projects to become self-sustaining with their credit pro­gram this year. Even though there is a long road to travel to make a sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence in the area, the asso­ci­a­tion has already become key for the devel­op­ment of the Ixil women.

Contact Name:      Bill Fishbein
Location:      San Gaspar Chajul, Guatemala
Email Address:
Phone Number:     505.670.9783

Cameroon Boyo

Categories: 2013, JulyTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

IMAG1686Project Description
Morethanfair is a direct trade move­ment that brings cof­fee to mar­kets using a cost and prof­itabil­ity sys­tem and not the NYEC pric­ing model com­monly used by oth­ers. Here cof­fee farm­ers have part­nered with cof­fee roast­ers and other sec­tors to ensure that high qual­ity cof­fee reaches the best mar­kets and that they and their part­ners share in the rewards of sell­ing the best cof­fees with­out the risk of mar­ket fluctuations.

Our part­ners include milling, export con­di­tion­ing cen­ters, the logis­tics, the ware­hous­ing providers, mar­ket­ing, and dis­trib­ut­ing part­ners. Starting with an under­stand­ing that farm­ers are the own­ers of the cof­fee as it is moved, with part­ners’ inputs, along the sup­ply chain, there are cer­tain expec­ta­tions nec­es­sary to obtain qual­ity. They include farm­ers and their part­ners pos­sess­ing dif­fer­ent skills and capac­i­ties; how­ever, they are expected, and do, deliver the best qual­ity pos­si­ble in each of their area of exper­tise. We oper­ate with mutual respect and the trade process is open and transparent.

IMAG3034Who Benefits from this Project?
Farmers are able to have their cof­fee moved along its entire sup­ply chain effi­ciently and cost effectively.

Roasters are not to worry about the price increas­ing because the mar­ket and qual­ity is ensured by direct con­tact with the peo­ple respon­si­ble for the qual­ity issues.

Coffee con­sumers are able to see the whole cof­fee chain reac­tion and ben­e­fit by edu­cat­ing and being able to obtain the whole story behind this product.

DSC00042How Can I Help?
You can become an agent of change by becom­ing finan­cial part­ners and pro­vide upfront fund­ing (invest­ments) so that farm­ers can take care of their basic needs dur­ing the months when the cof­fee berries are developing.

If you are a trader, you can par­tic­i­pate by using a new part­ner that is open and trans­par­ent. Providing oppor­tu­ni­ties for any pro­fes­sional along the sup­ply chain to pro­vide needed expe­ri­ence and knowl­edge. You can roast and retail our cof­fee as we are always wel­com­ing new agents of change to rep­re­sent us to a new wave of edu­cated and smart consumers.

Contact Name:     Ron Cortez
Web Site:
Location:     Tempe, Arizona, USA
Email Address:
Phone Number:     602.418.4350

&A with Fair Trade USA">Q&A with Fair Trade USA

Categories: 2012, MarchTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , Author:

Can you tell us about some of the changes occur­ring in Fair Trade Certified cof­fee?
According to the World Bank, more than two bil­lion peo­ple live on less than two dol­lars a day. Today’s Fair Trade model reaches only a small per­cent­age of them. Fair Trade can and must do more.
That is why we are build­ing on the momen­tum of the past 12 years to bring greater impact to farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties around the world. Our new vision, aimed at dou­bling the impact of Fair Trade by 2015, will:

  • Strengthen farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties by invest­ing in coop­er­a­tives and part­ner­ing with oth­ers to pro­vide more impact
  • Innovate the Fair Trade model to include more peo­ple in more com­mu­ni­ties around the world
  • Ignite con­sumer involve­ment to increase aware­ness and sales in order to grow the Fair Trade movement

Today Fair Trade prin­ci­ples are applied some­what incon­sis­tently. In some prod­uct cat­e­gories, like cof­fee, cocoa and sugar, Fair Trade cer­ti­fi­ca­tion has been lim­ited to coop­er­a­tives. In other cat­e­gories, like bananas, tea and flow­ers, farm work­ers on large farms can also receive Fair Trade benefits.

To elim­i­nate these incon­sis­ten­cies Fair trade USA is adapt­ing exist­ing stan­dards and apply­ing them to inde­pen­dent small­hold­ers and farm work­ers on large farms, begin­ning in coffee.

This more inclu­sive model brings the ben­e­fits of Fair Trade to far more farm­ers and work­ers; enables more busi­nesses to develop reli­able and eth­i­cal sup­ply chains; allows more retail­ers to offer more Fair Trade Certified prod­ucts; and gives con­sumers a broader selec­tion of high qual­ity Fair Trade Certified prod­ucts from which to choose.

Is Fair Trade con­cerned about qual­ity, and if so, how?
Fair Trade is absolutely con­cerned about prod­uct qual­ity, from the farm to the cup. While Fair Trade USA does not cer­tify against qual­ity, we do sup­port invest­ment in qual­ity. It is a win-win sit­u­a­tion– higher qual­ity means higher prices and greater impact for farm­ers, and a bet­ter prod­uct for consumers.

In addi­tion to the min­i­mum or mar­ket price, Fair Trade requires that buy­ers pay com­mu­nity devel­op­ment pre­mi­ums. Farmers demo­c­ra­t­i­cally decide how to spend these pre­mi­ums – his­tor­i­cally about 50% of pre­mium dol­lars have been used on projects that improve lives – things like edu­ca­tion, health­care, hous­ing – and about 50% have been used for projects that enable more envi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able farm­ing prac­tices and higher qual­ity prod­uct. In cof­fee, we have gone one step fur­ther: of the twenty-cent per pound com­mu­nity devel­op­ment pre­mium, five cents must go directly to qual­ity initiatives.

Fair Trade USA has also part­nered with key inter­na­tional research groups, NGO’s and indus­try part­ners to enhance cof­fee qual­ity. For exam­ple, Fair Trade USA is cur­rently work­ing with the Global Coffee Quality Research Initiative (GCQRI), a col­lab­o­ra­tive research pro­gram of the spe­cialty cof­fee indus­try, to help all mem­bers of the Fair Trade cof­fee sup­ply chain improve qual­ity and yields in the face of cli­mate change.

How does Fair trade USA engage cof­fee drink­ing con­sumers and grow con­sumer aware­ness?
Not only does Fair Trade USA sup­port the work of indi­vid­ual brands and com­pa­nies to increase aware­ness and drive sales of Fair Trade Certified cof­fees, we are also able to step out­side these indi­vid­ual brand efforts to grow the Fair Trade move­ment as a whole. Some of these national efforts include pro­grams like: Fair Trade Towns and Universities, Fair Trade Month (every October), and var­i­ous mar­ket­ing, pub­lic rela­tions and online dig­i­tal media pro­grams through­out the year that engage con­sumers on a much larger scale.

Why does Fair Trade USA work with large com­pa­nies?
Fair Trade USA cer­ti­fies and pro­motes Fair Trade prod­ucts, with the aim of alle­vi­at­ing poverty through trade.

While the major­ity of Fair Trade USA’s cof­fee part­ners are small to medium size roast­ers, it’s our phi­los­o­phy that any com­pany of any size should be able to embrace Fair Trade and com­mit to sus­tain­able sourc­ing. Any com­mit­ment to Fair Trade is an impor­tant one, which is why we sup­port both large and small brands in buy­ing and sell­ing Fair Trade Certified cof­fee. When there are more Fair Trade prod­ucts on store shelves, more con­sumers are able to choose Fair Trade and that means more impact back to farmers.

What do Fair Trade USA’s ser­vice fees go to?
Fair Trade USA is a non­profit orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to alle­vi­at­ing poverty through trade. In addi­tion to mar­ket link­age, we offer a com­pre­hen­sive range of ser­vices to sup­port the sourc­ing of Fair Trade Certified goods, pro­vide cred­i­ble ver­i­fi­ca­tion of respon­si­ble sourc­ing prac­tices, and empower farm­ers and work­ers around the world to earn a fair price and improve their communities.

Specifically, Fair Trade USA’s ser­vice fees go to:

Developing the sup­ply of high-quality, Fair Trade Certified cof­fee
Market access and sup­ply chain sta­bil­ity are core objec­tives of Fair Trade. We con­stantly recruit, train and cer­tify new pro­ducer groups, expand­ing ben­e­fits to more farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties each year. Additionally, importers and roast­ers fre­quently enlist our sup­port to help them iden­tify and part­ner with high-quality Fair Trade farms. We also part­ner with lead­ing NGO’s and indus­try groups to help strengthen exist­ing Fair Trade cooperatives.

Standards & Certification
Fair Trade USA sets rig­or­ous social and envi­ron­men­tal stan­dards, cer­ti­fies farms against those stan­dards, and con­ducts reg­u­lar audits to ensure long term com­pli­ance. Fair Trade USA also audits thou­sands of busi­ness trans­ac­tions each year to ensure the integrity of every prod­uct bear­ing the Fair Trade Certified label.

Building the Fair Trade Movement and dri­ving con­sumer aware­ness and demand
Without a sale, Fair Trade can pro­vide no impact back to farm­ers. Fair Trade USA invests in grow­ing con­sumer aware­ness to drive demand and ben­e­fit far more farm­ers and work­ers around the world.

Measure & Report Impact
Fair Trade USA works with farmer orga­ni­za­tions around the world to cap­ture and sum­ma­rize the impact that results from par­tic­i­pa­tion in Fair Trade. Fair Trade USA shares this infor­ma­tion through detailed impact reports and impact sto­ries that help con­nect con­sumers with the peo­ple behind the products.

It is also impor­tant to note that in 2011 Fair Trade USA reduced ser­vice fees for cof­fee roast­ers across the board. Now, there are zero fees on the first 20,000 pounds of Fair Trade Certified cof­fee pur­chased, and all fees beyond 20,000 pounds have been reduced as well.

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