Fair Trade Certification
Back in 1997, Just Us! became the first certified Fair Trade licensed coffee roaster in North America. There are now over 250 licensed Fair Trade companies just in Canada. There are also many companies now claiming to have products that are fair trade, or fairly traded, but are not certified. Others buy only a small portion of FT products to improve their image or cater to niche markets, while purchasing the rest of their products outside of the certified system. Without certification, there is no auditing of trade practices, farming or processing facilities, so the consumer can never really know the ethics behind un-certified products.
The principles of the global Fair Trade system represent more than just Corporate Social Responsibility.
We don’t think that Fair Trade pretends that it can eliminate global poverty, but it does eliminate some of the risk for small-scale farmers that know that they can count on at least a certain minimum income from their harvest, which can really mean an assurance to meet some of the basics for their families. With the minimum pricing structure and fixed premiums, Fair Trade and organic certification reduces coffee pricing volatility and helps avoid desperate circumstances for thousands of families of small-holder farmers that often only own and harvest only a few hectares of land. Just Us! pays well above the FT coffee minimum, even when commodity markets are low, to remunerate farmers for high quality, organically grown product.
In our view, poverty should not just be measured in terms of economics. Some of the happiest people we have ever met live in healthy indigenous communities that would be considered impoverished by narrow economic measures. Fair Trade premiums are invested into rural community infrastructure and services based on the priorities of the farmers that are members of a co-operative. Although we don’t feel that organic premiums paid to producers have yet reached a point where the true market and global value of sustainable agriculture is reflected, we do think that it is an important approach for healthy communities in commodity producing regions. For coffee producers, Fair Trade and organic certification is about creating an improved quality of life and not just an improved standard of living through farming. They wouldn’t participate in the system if they didn’t see this value in it. Neither would Just Us! and neither would our customers.
Most importantly as small-producers organize, they gain collective power and a collective voice. In many areas they have traditionally been exploited by colonialism, oppressive regimes and large corporate commodity traders. Cooperative organization increasingly allows farmers to control their economic and social activities and to make the decisions and investments that impact their own communities. We see their choice to farm organically in the Fair Trade market, as a statement to work towards a healthier existence, but not the ultimate solution to development in rural communities.
Just Us! core products are 100% Fair Trade certified by Fair Trade Canada
Seven Principles of Fair Trade
The ethical production and purchase of goods is essential to creating an equitable, just and healthy planet. Fair Trade has become an extremely valuable means to certify ethical standards for some items purchased in Southern countries. We believes that there is a similar need for ethical standards for all items, whether they are produced in the North or the South. We propose these principles as a set of values that consumers can use to judge a business, its practices and its products. These principles are not specific standards, but guideposts to help ask important questions and make ethical decisions.
Information is readily available in an accurate, clear and accessible form about how and where products are produced, how the business operates and who profits. Education is promoted through information sharing.
· Commitment to Human Rights and Non-Violence:
The organization respects the human and labour rights of all of its workers and stakeholders and assures that its practices contribute to safe social and physical environments and communities. Humane treatment of animals is assured.
· Fair Payment:
The organization provides fair payment to all workers and producers so that they can live with dignity in an economically sustainable manner.
Workers and producers have a voice and participate in decisions that relate to the structure and nature of their work, helping them to gain more control over their economic and social lives. Efforts are made to pro-actively support groups that have been systematically discriminated against over time.
· Community Enhancement:
The business demonstrates a commitment to the enhancement of local communities in which it operates though contributing financial, material or human resources. Cultural diversity is respected and celebrated.
· Direct Trade:
The distance between the producer and the consumer is minimized, either through buying locally or minimizing middlemen when products come from other parts of the world. This provides for a greater return for producers and workers and a greater sense of accountability and relationship between producers and consumers.
· Environmental Responsibility:
The business demonstrates environmentally responsible practices in the design, production and disposal of its products and in all its activities. Relevant issues include…
o Organic certification where appropriate
o Items are designed to minimize environmental impact over the product lifetime
o Reducing, reusing, recycling and composting waste and packaging
o Elimination of dangerous chemicals in production of goods and commodities
o Educating and requiring suppliers to be environmentally responsible.
The organization provides quality in its products and services and stands by its products when there are problems or evident faults.