You may see the Fair Trade logo on many products but not understand what it means. The Fair Trade Agreement (FTA) created an agreement between small farmers, retailers, and the parties in the supply chain.
The FTA provides a mechanism for farmers to obtain a fair price for their crop enabling them to continue using the highest quality cultivation methods. An independent observer spot checks to ensure the agreement gets upheld. This independent organization also offers assistance to the growers.
The underlying tenet of the FTA is its provision for a minimum crop price. This price-setting guarantees farmers a market price that does not fluctuate.
The FTA provides education, health care, and environmental care for employees of coffee plantations and farms. It mandates proper working conditions for farmworkers. The typical fair trade farm grows organically and eschews clear-cutting.
While the FTA benefits farmers growing many crops, most people know of fair trade coffee. While it benefits every coffee grower, it benefits those in Third World countries the most. These micro-operations can still earn a living and compete with larger plantation operations. FTA includes corporations like Starbucks and Green Mountain, as well as individual farmers, resulting in more than 100 companies that carry the Fair Trade insignia. The FTA only awards that insignia to operations that proved they have met all FTA criteria.
Purchasing fair trade coffee costs a little more than coffee grown without meeting these criteria, but it provides a better work environment and improved ecological setting. It also tends to taste better.