What is Fair Trade?

Fair Trade is a way of doing business that ultimately aims to keep small farmers an active part of the world marketplace, and aims to empower consumers to make purchases that support their values. Fair Trade is a set of business practices voluntarily adopted by the producers and buyers of agricultural commodities and hand-made crafts that are designed to advance many economic, social and environmental goals, including:

  • Raising and stabilizing the incomes of small-scale farmers, farm workers, and artisans
  • More equitably distributing the economic gains, opportunities and risks associated with the production and sale of these goods
  • Increasing the organizational and commercial capacities of producer groups
  • Supporting democratically owned and controlled producer organizations
  • Promoting labor rights and the right of workers to organize
  • Promoting safe and sustainable farming methods and working conditions
  • Connecting consumers and producers
  • Increasing consumer awareness and engagement with issues affecting producers

The Fair Trade practices that advance these goals typically, but not always, include:

  • Direct trade relationships and long term contracts between importers and producer groups
  • Sourcing from small-farmer or artisan co-operatives
  • Higher than conventional market prices, either through above-market premiums and/or price floors
  • The provision of affordable credit
  • Adherence to the policies of the International Labor Organization, especially those concerning child and forced labor and the right to collective bargaining
  • The prohibition of the use of the more dangerous pesticides and herbicides
  • Substantial price premiums for the production of certified organic crops
  • External monitoring, auditing, and certification of these practices by independent third-parties