Economic, social and community support through Fair Trade USA
Food, and how Americans buy, store and consume it, has become a heavily politicized issue in recent years. Lawmakers are currently bickering over how to handle crops grown using GMOs, and all you have to do is look around and you’ll find products proudly labeled “organic” or reusable containers made from recycled materials. While this trend has had a number of positive and negative effects, one of the more beneficial aspects is that it has also made way for organizations, like Fair Trade USA, that spark economic, social and community change.
Fair Trade USA is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization, and they are the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the U.S. Fair Trade USA and the products that they endorse promote moral business practices and social responsibility, while also enabling farmers in developing nations to find equality and thrive in their community. Instead of providing financial aid, Fair Trade USA addresses issues in the market and provides the public with the information needed to make an educated purchase. Products that are certified by Fair Trade USA have the Fair Trade logo printed on the packaging, so consumers know that their goods meet Fair Trade standards.
Fair Trade USA Standards
Fair Trade USA has a well-developed set of standards that businesses have to adhere to. A company endorsed by Fair Trade USA provides its workers with safe working conditions that are free of child labor. Steps are taken to prevent work-related injuries, and workers aren’t subject to long hours and receive proper healthcare. Fair Trade companies are stewards for environmental protection and refrain from the use of harmful chemicals. They take the necessary measures to protect natural resources and work to sustain healthy soil and water for future agriculture. Fair Trade monitors waste management and the use of energy, and Fair Trade companies do their best to limit greenhouse gas emissions.
On a regional level, one of the most important aspects of Fair Trade USA is economic development. Besides ensuring proper wages, the organization also promotes the creation of stable business partnerships. Smaller businesses that were once unable to reach a large market can bring their products to a more commercial and global market, and Fair Trade USA also sets premiums on each sale that are used for community development, giving regions that are impoverished or victim to poor government oversight an opportunity to improve. Premiums are used towards things that can be used by the community as a whole, not just farmers, and they are often used to help build schools, hospitals or improve infrastructure.
Fair Trade also seeks to empower workers. Providing them with the proper training and work skills allows for an improved work capacity and a more effective workforce. Workers and farmers are able to work in cooperatives to reach higher achievements, and farmers are also allowed to create or join workers’ associations. Throughout all of these groups Fair Trade USA works to ensure that the democratic process is upheld and the decisions that are made meet the workers’ and communities’ interests.
By enforcing these standards, Fair Trade USA allows workers to find success. Fair Trade USA is constantly working to assess Fair Trade USA companies and also trying to improve their assessment standards and practices. This allows them to adapt to changing communities and developing businesses, ensuring that Fair Trade standards are continuously met.
As Americans become more cognizant of where their food comes from, organizations, like Fair Trade USA, become increasingly important. When people see a Fair Trade USA logo on a product, they can consume at ease and know that the company has met Fair Trade USA’s comprehensive list of standards.