Fair Trade Coffee & Our Unique Community Aid Program
What does Fair Trade & Community Aid have in common?
The answer is that both the Fair Trade Certificate and our Community Aid program strive to alleviate dire poverty in coffee growing lands.
What is Fair Trade Certified?
Fair Trade is a labeling/certification program which certifies importers and roasters purchase coffee beans directly from cooperatives of small, landed farmers at a fixed price contract of no less than $1.31 per pound. The scheme also promotes long-term fixed contracts as well as direct imports from cooperatives to bypass middlemen. If a bag of coffee has been purchased through Fair Trade certified farmer cooperatives, the package can show the black and white Fair Trade certificate of TransFair USA - the non-profit that certifies Fair Trade.
What is "Rogers Family Fairly Traded" Coffee?
While we don’t purchase officially certified “Fair Trade Certified” coffee, we proudly state that all coffee from Rogers Family Company is “Fairly Traded." Why?
- We pay farmers much more than the minimum $1.31 per pound – in fact, we pay them an even fairer price that helps to keep their farms in business. With vibrant farms, farmers and workers are able to stay near their families rather than moving to big, overcrowded cities to find work.
- We too, import directly from farmers rather than through the coffee commodities market.
- Our unique and innovative Community Aid program truly breaks the cycle of poverty in our partner communities.
So why don’t your coffees carry the Fair Trade Certificate?
The problem with Fair Trade is that not all farmers with excellent quality farms want to become organized into cooperatives (a prerequisite for farmers participating in Fair Trade). Furthermore, many large coffee farms with which we do business often hire the local, indigenous population to work on their farms. So, when importing coffee from a larger farm (and therefore not a member of a Fair Trade cooperative), it is impossible to get Fair Trade certification for the coffee. But poverty is still a problem for the local community and the workers on the large farms. In fact, one common misconception is that the official Fair Trade certificate proves the coffee helps workers. That is not true…it only helps members of farming cooperatives. Workers who own no land are left out of the entire Fair Trade scheme.
Our Innovative Community Aid Program
Unique to the coffee industry, our company's Community Aid program which we started in 1987, fills this void that cannot be addressed by Fair Trade. We spend upwards of $1,000,000 every year on over 20 farms in Central America, Mexico, and most recently Rwanda, where we've improved worker housing and built or replaced schools (like the school shown here to the left at the Selva Negra coffee farm in Nicaragua).
We've created day cares and nutrition programs for children for when their parents are off at work in the fields as well as built medical clinics. We even pay for doctors' and teachers' salaries when there was formerly no staff. Peter Rogers, our green coffee buyer, personally travels four months out of the year to ensure our programs are working.
The program is, in essence, a mini Peace Corps, and it's supported by your purchase of our products, so you are making a real difference in the lives of the people who grow this coffee. We work directly with communities to oversee the proper distribution of funds, rather than simply sending money and hoping the funds are spent on development efforts. In this way, we know exactly where and how our funds are being spent.
Visit the Rogers Family Company blog to see our Community Aid Map and specific projects implemented.
Why Community Aid?
Community Aid helps us develop long-term relationships with our partner coffee farms and the surrounding communities. A reliable, high quality, supply of green coffee is vitally important to our business. But it's also deeper than that.
In 1994 when we started visiting the farms and communities where our coffee was being grown, we simply couldn't ignore the dire poverty we encountered. Back home, we couldn't forget the innocence in children's eyes and the despair in their parents' hearts.
Hope for our children's future is the common bond between all parents no matter what nationality, and though we speak different languages and come from different cultures, we all simply want the best for our kids in the future. As our world becomes smaller, the future of children in far away lands and that of our own children are converging. We decided to do something tangible to make that future a beautiful one for everyone. Community Aid is a small step towards breaking the cycle of poverty and helping make the future brighter for our friends.