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We appreciated last week’s article on local displacement (“Mourning Coffee,” 10/18). However, the connection between coffee and displacement extends well beyond what is going on locally. As gourmet coffee shops continue to proliferate and charge increasing prices for lattes and cappuccinos, coffee growers around the world are facing a desperate crisis because of an unprecedented collapse in the world price for coffee. The market price has dropped roughly 70 percent in the past five years. Small family farmers are being forced to sell their coffee beans for far less than what they cost to produce. Of the $1.25 cup of coffee mentioned in the article, farmers are getting less than one penny. As a result, hundreds of thousands are selling off their land and moving to urban areas in search of work.
Over the past year, local residents have been working on a campaign to raise awareness of the coffee crisis and of the alternative—Fair Trade Certified coffee. Fair Trade Certified coffee guarantees that the coffee farmers received a fair price for their harvest. These farmers are organized into democratic cooperatives that trade directly with importers so they can avoid middlemen. At a time when prices are so low, Fair Trade is a lifeline for small coffee farmers.
As consumer awareness has increased, so have the popularity and availability of Fair Trade Certified coffee. It is now available at more than 300 locations in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. As the campaign’s success demonstrates, buying Fair Trade Certified coffee—and asking for it where it is not available—is a simple and powerful way to combat global displacement locally and support trading relationships based on justice.
To find out more Fair Trade Certified coffee, visit www.transfairusa.org. To learn more about the impact of record-low coffee prices on millions of coffee farmers, visit www.oxfamamerica.org/coffee.
Washington, D.C., Fair Trade
Fair Trade Campaigner