is fair trade certification?
Much like organic certification, fair trade certification
lets you know about the origin of a product. Fair trade certified
products come from all over the world, but share a common
history. Farmers who grow fair trade products receive a fair
price, and their communities and the environment benefit as
Fair trade certified coffee directly supports
a better life for farming families in the developing world
through fair prices, community development and environmental
stewardship. Fair trade farmers market their own harvests
through direct, long-term contracts with international buyers,
learning how to manage their businesses and compete in the
global marketplace. Receiving a fair price for their harvest
allows these farmers to invest in their families' health care
and education, reinvest in quality and protect the environment.
This empowerment model lifts farming families from poverty
through trade, not aid, creating a more equitable and sustainable
model of international trade that benefits producers, consumers,
industry and the Earth. The Fair for Life label is
backed by IMO, one of the third-party certifiers of
fair trade products for the U.S. market.
The Fair for Life label guarantees:
Fair price: Family farmers
receive fair prices for their harvest, and premiums specifically
earmarked for community development projects; even higher
premiums are given for certified organic products. Farmer
organizations are also eligible for pre-harvest credit.
Harmful agrochemicals and GMOs are strictly prohibited in
favor of environmentally sustainable farming methods that
protect farmers' health and preserve valuable ecosystems for
future generations. Fair trade farmers protect the land and
wildlife habitat by intercropping plant species to improve
soil fertility and protect against erosion. Stringent environmental
management programs, including water conservation, proper
waste disposal and prohibitions on planting in protected areas
further encourage environmental stewardship.
Fair labor conditions:
Workers on fair trade farms enjoy freedom of association,
safe working conditions and fair wages. Forced child labor
is strictly prohibited.
Direct trade: Importers
purchase from fair trade producer groups as directly as possible,
eliminating unnecessary middlemen and empowering farmers to
develop the business capacity needed to compete in the global
Democratic and transparent organizations:
Fair trade farmers and farm workers decide how to invest fair
trade revenues, and proof of a democratic process is required.
Fair trade farmers and workers invest fair trade premiums
in social and business development projects like scholarship
programs, healthcare services and quality improvement training.
Examples of community projects include:
- Members of the COSURCA coffee cooperative
in Colombia successfully prevented the cultivation of more
than 1,600 acres of coca and poppy used to produce illicit
- In the highlands of Guatemala, indigenous
Tzutuhil Mayans in the La Voz cooperative are sending local
kids to college for the first time.
- Near Lake Titicaca, in Peru, the CECOVASA
cooperative is assisting members from Quechua and Aymara
indigenous groups in improving coffee quality and transitioning
to certified organic production.
- The CECOCAFEN cooperative in Nicaragua
established a reproductive health program providing tests
for the virus that causes cervical cancer.
What is IMO "Fair for Life" fair trade certification?
"Fair for Life" is a brand neutral third party certification program for social accountability and fair trade in agricultural, manufacturing and trading operations. The program complements existing fair trade certification systems.
Social accountability and fair trade have become important indicators to select business partners in a global market place. The Fair for Life Social & FairTrade Certification Program offers operators of socially responsible projects a solution for objective inspection and certification by a highly qualified external verifier. It combines strict social and fair trade standards with adaptability to local conditions.
Why is fair trade certification needed today?
Throughout the global south, family farmers follow generations
of tradition to cultivate food products we enjoy every day.
Yet many family farmers in the developing world don't receive
a fair price for their crops. These isolated rural communities
lack direct market access, often selling their premium crops
below the cost of production to local middlemen who misrepresent
global prices. This cycle of debt forces many to abandon their
land and years of agricultural heritage, destroying the social
and cultural fabric of these communities. When farming communities
in the developing world suffer, the whole world suffers -
forced immigration, inferior-quality products and large-scale
farming methods that often compromise the environment.
Who benefits from fair trade certification?
- Producers: Beyond
receiving a fair, stable price, fair trade also empowers
producers to invest in their organizations, improve their
communities and protect the environment.
- Consumers: Fair trade
certification enables consumers to "vote with their
dollar" by providing an independent guarantee that
products were produced and traded fairly. We all lead busy
lives, and we want to do the right thing, but we're busy.
What if we could make a positive impact just with the purchases
we make every day? And not have to go out of our way to
do this? That's the compelling proposition of fair trade.
- The Earth: Fair trade
certification requires and rewards environmentally sustainable
farming practices that protect farmers' health and preserve
valuable ecosystems for future generations, and provides
the resources and technical assistance needed for organic