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211. Fair Trade for All: A summary

(NB: An updated version of this summary, including links to new content, was published on 10 November 2011.)

A few weeks ago I was pulled into a meeting with Paul Rice from Fair Trade USA that sent this blog swerving off its normal path and into a collision course with controversy.  For the past month I have posted reflections — my own and those of others — on FTUSA’s decision to break with Fairtrade International and rewrite the rulebook for Fair Trade Certified coffee in the United States.  I have published here a summary of those posts for easy reference and access, and will return to the blog’s regularly scheduled programming for the foreseeable future.


  • Where there is no cooperative (published 13 October 2011).  Reflections on the limitations of the cooperative model and FT4All’s potential to expand opportunities for smallholder farmers in places where there is no cooperative.


HOW will it impact smallholder cooperatives?

  •  Will a rising tide lift all boats?  (published 10 October 2011).  Two visions of what will happen to smallholder coops when FTUSA opens the floodgates to estate coffee.  The answer to the question may depend on how high and how fast the tide rises, and who gets the lifeboats.


HOW will FTUSA manage the process of change?

  • Governance matters (published 21 October 2011).  Reflections on coffee chain governance, an underappreciated aspect of the coffee trade, and its implications for farmers.  With reference to pending decisions that may indicate how FTUSA will govern as we move into the FT4All era.


The Bill Fishbein debates.

  • For: Competition among certifiers could benefit smallholder farmers (published 24 October 2011).  Bill’s shorter and less passionate, if equally thoughtful, argument suggesting that FT4All may generate some benefits for smallholder farmers by unleashing competition in a marketplace that has only known monopoly.

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