Fairness For Farmers: A report assessing the Fair Trade Movement and the role of certification
The power in global supply chains is tipped in favor of those who already have size, wealth, and power. Small-scale farmers, artisans, and workers are typically marginalized and disempowered in this system. Small-scale farmers, the focus of this report, face many threats including land grabbing, unfair trade agreements, lack of government and technical support, low and volatile prices, uneven wealth distribution, corporate control of the food system, and climate change. Fair trade describes a global social movement with the goal of shifting power in supply chains. Fair trade can also describe specific products that meet specific standards related to fair trade principles including fair payments, safe working conditions, transparency, and environmental stewardship. This report looks at the role that fair trade certification and verification programs can play within the larger fair trade movement of ensuring fairness to farmers and addressing power imbalances in the economy. It also compares the details of six labeling schemes. Fair for Life, the Fairtrade System, Naturland Fair, and Small Producer Symbol are all recommended without qualifications. World Fair Trade Organization’s Guarantee System is also recommended, though with some qualifications. Fair Trade USA is identified as a program to approach with caution. Consumers, retailers, and institutions that wish to engage in the fair trade movement can support the strongest labeling initiatives as well as advocacy campaigns that benefit small-scale farmers.