The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.


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Conscious Capitalism

In an interview with GreenBiz, Fair Trade USA CEO Paul Rice notes

What smart capitalists are realizing, conscious capitalists are realizing, is not only can you be both sustainable and profitable, but in the future, you’re going to have to be both.

In fact, U.S. Retail sales of certified by nonprofit Fair Trade USA topped $6 billion in 2016 with well-known brands such as Starbucks, PepsiCo, Target, Costco, Walmart, Patagonia, West Elm and Gap Inc. among its 1,300 corporate supporters.

,,,the organization generated an additional $500 million in income over the past two decades for more than a million farmers and factory workers touched by its programs in more than 45 countries worldwide.


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Support better conditions for farm workers with fair trade

Our current industrial farm culture not only degrades the environment, the soil and the water, but subjects workers to an array of hazards such as respiratory infections, sprains, bruises, severe head trauma, fractures, electrocution and repetitive motion injury.

Paul Rice, Founder and CEO of Fair Trade USA emphasizes the need for Fair Trade Certification in the agricultural sector internationally – even in a “developed” country like the US…

A 2014 Los Angeles Times investigation found Mexican farm workers living in squalor, denied wages, and trapped in debt on farms that export produce to the U.S., highlighting the need for standardization and enforcement of labor standards. Unfortunately, U.S. farms could not provide a much better example of decent work in practice. In the U.S., just as in other parts of the world, workers face abysmally low wages, unsafe and toxic working conditions, child labor, indentured servitude, and human trafficking. They are also regularly unable to gain access to medical care and education.

He acknowledges that while the US has stronger labor laws than many other countries, they still don’t meet Fair Trade Certified standards…

Agricultural workers deserve the same fair income, secure workplaces and social protections provided to other industrial workers under state and federal laws.

Adhering to Fair Trade standards comes with added benefit to farm workers in the form of Fair Trade Committees and Community Development Funds. It’s simple: for every Fair Trade Certified product sold, the farmers who grew it earn an additional amount of money called Community Development Funds. From there, a democratically-elected group of farm workers, called the Fair Trade Committee, assembles to decide how to spend these dollars to meet their unique social, economic, and environmental needs.

In 2016, Wholesum Harvest, a family-owned tomato farm in Nogales, Arizona, made headlines when it announced its status as the very first Fair Trade Certified™ farm in the United States.

Within a year of becoming Fair Trade Certified, workers at Wholesum Harvest made their very first project investing in health insurance for the farmworkers. Even with employer-provided insurance available to all the workers, many still could not afford it, so workers voted to use their funds to offset the employee cost. In January 2018, Wholesum Harvest went from less than 5 percent to now 88 percent of its workers opting in to the employee-provided health insurance. (Compare that to just 35 percent of farm workers in the U.S. who report having health insurance.)