The fair trade movement has its roots in international social justice movements, and relies upon cooperatives to ensure fair wages, working conditions and distributors for the producers of coffee. Today a variety of certification agencies are working directly with point of origin coffee farmers to ensure sustainable working practices. As a result, over $4 billion in fair trade certified coffee is purchased by consumers each year, making the blends a growing trend among both independent and chain-based cafes.
Today, the World Fair Trade Organization works with the European Fair Trade Association to certify standards of production for fair trade certified coffee. Fair trade certified coffees are offered by a growing number of coffee brewers and distributors, giving consumers access to sustainable coffee choices. A variety of studies have shown the regulation, oversight and economic subsidies can help local farm cooperatives to increase incomes while also ensuring best farming and labor practices.
One of the most prominent producers of fair trade certified coffee is in Latin America, where small family farms in Costa Rice and other Central American nations are the largest producers of fair trade certified coffee. Fair trade organizations provide farmers with access to modern equipment, capital financing and better distribution prices than traditional market mechanisms.
Fair trade coffee also certified sustainable environmental practices utilizing organic, shade grown and non-industrial harvesting methods. As a result, Fair Trade certified coffee helps protect the land from over-harvesting, chemical pesticides and deforestation. With falling wholesale prices for coffee commodities, fair trade certified coffee encourages international standards for worker wages, treatment and prices. The cooperatives which support fair trade are also the leading producers of organic coffee, although conventional coffee beans are also harvested by fair trade growers. At the root of the movement is a shift to improved environmental and labor standards to benefit workers on a global scale.
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