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Amherst Eyes Fair Trade Effort

The Republican

AMHERST - Some residents are hoping that Amherst will become a Fair Trade Town, and one of the requirements is to endorse a Fair Trade Resolution.Members of the Amherst Fair Trade Partnership will ask fall Town Meeting to endorse the resolution that asks that town officials, when possible, procure fair trade products for the town. It also asks the Select Board to encourage institutions and businesses and institutions to use and sell Fair Trade Certified products whenever possible “for the well-being of producers, consumers and the planet.”

The resolution also asks Town Meeting to ask the Select Board to consider forming a committee to take on a more active role in the issues of Fair Trade.

“Endorsement of it will get articles in the paper, get people’s consciousness up,” said Irwin H. Friman, coordinator for the partnership.

He’s also hoping that Amherst will become a Fair Trade Town. He said that communities in Europe have joined, but the movement is newer in the United States. He said Brattleboro, Vt., has become a Fair Trade Town and said he thought, “Wow, this would be great for Amherst.”

The primary goal of the fair trade movement is to aid coffee, tea and cocoa growers. “Fair Trade is basically to get the farmers a fair price for their product,” Friman said.

He said that traditional coffee middlemen pay farmers 20 to 50 cents a pound, fair trade roasters will pay $1.30 to $1.50 on the pound. Plus, he said the farmers belong to a democratically run organization, and that group receives what’s called a social premium as well, extra money for the community to use for medical care or schools or to improve that community.

So far, 12 businesses downtown and 15 in town sell fair trade products.

On Oct. 4, the monthly Thursday night art walk is joining with the Fair Trade Amherst to promote the products.

Also, the partnership will be joining at the Amherst farmers market on Saturdays to provide information and samples of free trade coffee and others.

Anyone who would like more information or to get more involved can e-mail Friman at amherstfairtrade@ earthlink.net

Fall Town Meeting begins on Nov. 5.

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