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‘Socially Responsible’ Farmers Getting More Cash from Corporate Middle Men

coffee farmersSoaring coffee prices worldwide, while beneficial to many coffe growers, could ultimately hurt fair-trade, organic and other “socially conscious” coffee suppliers. This according to a recent McClatchy Newspapers report suggesting that buyers may no longer be willing to pay the premiums attached to more socially responsibly-grown beans.

“We haven’t seen this kind of price in many, many years,” said Linbano Cruz Alvarado, a unionized organic grower in Mexico’s Chiapas region, referring to the fact that U.S. retail coffee prices are up approximately 20 percent since a year ago, while the commodity price is up 57 percent. “We’ve seen high prices, but not this high.”

The report focuses largely on growers in Latin America who’ve been aided in recent years by cooperative and fair-trade agreements. Many of those growers are now getting better prices from middle men, the larger suppliers often known as “coyotes,” than they are from their existing cooperative and trade agreements.

“The co-ops are an underfinanced population. If they needed $1 million before to buy the harvest of their members, suddenly they need $3 million” Rodney North, a spokesman for Massachusetts-based Equal Exchange, told the news service.

The full story: Miami Herald



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