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217. The FT4All debates: A summary

On Halloween, I published a post summarizing everything written here on the Fair Trade for All debate and promised to leave this issue alone for a while.  With new information continuing to emerge in this evolving process, it has proven harder than I thought to keep my word.  Yesterday I published three more new posts related to FT4All.  What follows is an updated summary of FT4All content from this blog.


AGAINST FT4ALL: Merling Preza – Latin American and Caribbean Network of Small Fair Trade Producers

  • Merling Preza makes the case against FT4All (published 9 November 2011).  Notes from a long and ranging discussion on the FT4All vision with Merling Preza, General Manager of PRODECOOP and President of the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Small Fair Trade Producers.

 (Find essential background for the Paul Rice-Merling Preza debate here.)

FOR and AGAINST FT4ALL: 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.




INCLUSION – Is there room for unorganized smallholder farmers in the U.S. market for Fair Trade coffee?

  • 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.


IMPACT – How will FT4All 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.


PROCESS – 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.





  • Jon Danzig says:

    Readers may be interested that last week BBC radio interviewed me about our campaign back in 1976 to import instant coffee from Tanzania to the United Kingdom. It started the idea of ethically sourced coffee in the UK. The broadcast is now available on YouTube:

    • Michael Sheridan says:


      Thanks for your pioneering Fair Trade efforts in the 1970s, and for sharing your recent interview here. Fair Trade has come a long way from the instant-coffee origins of your campaign, but the spirit that motivated you and other pioneers survives. The solidarity-based outreach that drove the movement in the early days has been pushed aside a bit for more mainstream marketing efforts. It seems that the FT4All initiative in the States may be setting the state for an institutionalized rift between those two currents of the movement/market.


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