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The 3 Major Producer Networks Oppose FTUSA’s Withdrawal from FLO

The 3 major producer networks (representing 800 producers groups comprised of around 1 million producers in 60 countries) in Fair Trade certification, issued statements this week strongly opposing Fair Trade USA’s decision to withdraw from Fairtrade International (FLO), and to FTUSA doing so without consulting the 3 networks, all co-owners of FLO.In addition, the Latin America network, CLAC, and its coffee subgroup, Red Café, went further to strongly oppose FTUSA’s strategy to expand certification for hired labor in coffee and other product areas in Latin America. More, CLAC and Red Café urge that the current flux in Fair Trade be used to have FLO reconsider its current policies of allowing plantations and contract labor in some products (bananas, tea, flowers, etc.) in Latin America, to allow only small producers self-organized to participate in FLO.

See the full producer statements at:

Joint statement from CAN (Latin American and Caribbean Network of Small Fair Trade Producers (CLAC), Fairtrade Africa, and Network of Asian Producers)

Statement from CLAC (Latin American and Caribbean Network of Small Fair Trade Producers)

Statement from Fairtrade Africa

Statement from Network of Asian Producers

Statement from Red Café

In addition, the Fair World Project, a program of the Organic Consumers Association based in the US, issued a Fair World Project statement.

Finally, FTRN plans to conduct 3 public webinars during October, with panelists from FTUSA and FLO, to discuss what implications the split has for producers and the Fair Trade movement. Updates at FTRN News, and FTRN Webinars.


  1. I agree with the producer networks’ statements. FTUSA’s move to broader and less stringent standards will probably hurt the FT movement as a whole and will certainly sow confusion about what FairTrade really is. We will now have to try to explain to people that the new FTUSA seal doesn’t mean much and they will have to look for a real FairTrade certification.

  2. Kathryn

    FTUSA is NOT moving towards having broader and less stringent standards. The aims of Fair Trade for All as listed by Paul Rice in his FTRN Webinar are as follows:
    1) To go deeper with FT by strengthening the farming communities where FT works today, largely focusing on the co-ops
    2) To innovate the FT model in a way that makes it more scalable and more inclusive
    3) To embrace consumers and bring the vast majority of North American consumers into the FT movement
    In addition, there are already many opinions about what Fair Trade is and also many opinions about how to pursue social justice through trade - look at all of the organizations such as Rainforest Alliance and IMO Fair For Life. These are competing organizations who believe that their version of Fair Trade is superior. And, even within FLO organizations define Fair Trade differently - just look at the descriptions given by different labeling organizations. There are strong arguments against Fair Trade for All. Those listed in the previous post, however, are quite unfounded.

  3. Lia Walsh

    Re: Kathryn’s comment, I am wondering what the fundamental difference between “more inclusive” and “less stringent” is? The ideas are very similar. This is becoming a game of words, little more. I function on ideas and at the end of the day, the idea behind “more inclusive” is that the smallholders are going to have to compete with plantations within Fair Trade now, just as they have had to in conventional trade, and this goes against the very idea that Fair Trade began on.

    This is, of course, only one person’s opinion. It’s up to others to decide if they would opt to accomodate large corporations or small-scale farmers in co-ops, given the choice. But as far as what FT USA is doing, you can count me out.

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