Size is only part of the equation; Bigger doesn't always mean worse. The issue at stake isn't about how "corporate these farms" are in terms of size and relative geographic space to U.S. farms. The way that farmers are organized does matter, and private estates or plantations do not generate the same returns to the workers and co-operatives where people are more empowered to make their own decisions and gain more from the value of Fair Trade. Even if all private land owners were as benevolent as Batlle is, a co-operative model, while potentially more difficult to operate, if run effectively is much more powerful in my mind at transforming the conditions which helped create the type of poverty that exists in the South. Pricing (higher and more direct) and pricing transparency matter, as well as independent third party certification (not self certified "direct trade") for any ethical scheme a roaster claims, but again, I don't think the importance of the way that farmers are organized and who owns the land can be underscored.
Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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