In my former corporate life, I remember sitting in my office for a half an hour listening to a self – professed intellectual elite (University of Michigan grad) going on about how I should purchase a small car and Fair Trade products. Help get rid of 3rd world poverty, build new hospitals and houses, and educate the children!
The concept sounds appealing. You pay a little more to help other countries build schools, hospitals, etc. But have you ever followed the money trail of Fair Trade supporters and what they stand for? Or what their mission statements are? You’ll be amazed to find out that there is no guarantee that the extra money you spend will go to new hospitals, schools or for that matter increase the farmer’s wage. Do you know where your money is going, or what it is supporting when you purchase Fair Trade Tea or Fair Trade products?
From Wikipedia: “What Proportion of The Money Reaches The Farmers?”
“There is no evidence that Fair-trade farmers get higher prices on average. Anecdotes state that farmers were paid more, or less, by traders than by Fair-trade cooperatives. Few of these anecdotes address the problems of price reporting in Third World markets, and few address the complexity of the different price packages (which may or may not include credit, harvesting labour, spray application, transport and processing for instance). Cooperatives typically average prices over the year, so they pay less than traders at some times, more at others. Bassett (2009) is able to compare prices accurately where Fair-trade and non-Fair-trade farmers have to sell cotton to the same monopsonistic ginneries. Fair-trade encouraged Nicaraguan farmers to switch to organic coffee, which resulted in a higher price per pound, but a lower net income because of higher costs and lower yields”.
From the Fair Trade Federation website:
Promote Fair Trade- “Fair Trade encourages an understanding by all participants of their role in world trade. Members actively raise awareness about Fair Trade and the possibility of greater justice in the global economic system. They encourage customers and producers to ask questions about conventional and alternative supply chains and to make informed choices. Members demonstrate that trade can be a positive force for improving living standards, health, education, the distribution of power, and the environment in the communities with which they work”.
From the following websites of Supporters of the Fair Trade Organization:
Oxfam America Website:
Our mission: “To create lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and social injustice”.
Green America Website:” A non-profit organization that seeks to harness economic power – the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace – to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society”.
TransFair USA Website: “Fair Trade is not just a market; it is also a social movement that brings strength, hope and real choice to the world’s consumers”.
The Ethical Tea Partnership Website: “In order to reduce duplication and increase impact, we have formal relationships with the Fair-trade”.
We have a Fair Trade retail shop near us and their website states: “Fair Trade refers to the exchange of goods based on principles of economic and social justice.” The common thread between these groups is social justice.
From Wikipedia regarding Social Justice:
“Social justice is based on the concepts of human rights and equality and involves a greater degree of economic egalitarianism through progressive taxation, income redistribution, or even property redistribution”. Isn’t this is socialism?
I might be wrong. You decide. Don’t take my word or anyone else’s word on it. Take a little time, do your own research and come to your own conclusions. Don’t forget to research the supporters of these organizations, and then research who their supporters are. Dig a little. It’s on their websites and you’ll be surprised as to who is supporting these organizations. Be leery of the spin! Ask yourself this question. What is their mission?