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Fair Trade Coffee Standards


Fair Trade Certification

Fair Trade certification within the USA is granted by Fair Trade in the USA; it is a non-profit organization which began certifying coffee back in 1998 and since that time has included many other products, from tea or chocolate to fruits and spices. It has special logo in order to identify certified products. Similar organizations control same Fair Trade certifications in all the other countries.

On September 15, 2011, Fair Trade USA separated from the Fair Trade International. The actual fact of resignation took place on December 31, 2011, which means that today USA has embarked on absolutely different course from the rest of the world. This fact became very controversial in the society because it meant that the USA currently has absolutely different standards which brings the country to the point when it might not be able to sell its goods to the rest of the world. This also changed the environmental and labor standards. In fact, the government now works over the issue of trade between the countries worldwide.


Environmental standards

Environmental standards for Fair Trade coffee companies in the U.S. are now actually in flux, because of the split with the international organization. In general worldwide Fair Trade standards today encourage stable agriculture practices, but farmers have some leeway. Most Fair Trade coffee companies are also certified organic, for instance, but agrochemicals can also be used by non-certified as organic. Most but not all Fair Trade coffee companies are shade grown under natural tree canopies.

Farmers also must follow special practices for disposing of organic and hazardous wastes, they have to maintain buffer zones around bodies of water, and always minimize water use in order to avoid erosion and conserve the soil.

Labor standards

Today these standards in the U.S. are also being revised. According to the history of this process, the very foundation of Fair Trade certification was actually the establishment of a minimum price. Such guaranteed minimum price was able to keep small farmers in business and at the same time prevent the decay of rural communities which rely on agriculture. This certification enables much more families to send their children to school, instead of making them work in the fields.


In April 1, 2011, the minimum price for washed arabica coffee beans was set by Fairtrade International and it actually increased to $1.40 per one pound. If the coffee was certified as organic, it has also had additional 30 cents. There was also Fair Trade Premium which was 20 more cents; it was collected and then used in order to fund various social and business development projects in the producing communities. Fair Trade coffee companies also set aside one fourth of that premium in order to improve productivity and quality. Such prices are always paid to the farmers' cooperatives that then distribute profits after expenses. Unfortunately, not all coffee which is grown by small farmers can meet the standards for these minimum prices.

Jessica Lee is established as a blogger for a range of online content hubs, who covers various topics about coffee such as fair trade coffee companies and standards or other related areas. A proud nomad of digital space and an influential blogger in anything noteworthy for the coffee.

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