Updated June 23, 2020
As the world mobilizes to stop the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic, many people are searching for ways to support the economy and cultivate a sense of unity amid chaos. Business owners and workers in our communities have taken a hit as we begin to “shelter in place” and “social distance” across the US, but we are mobilizing to support them in creative ways. In this crisis, however, we must not forget the unseen producers in our supply chains. They help to put food in our bodies and clothes on our backs, yet they are often most vulnerable when a crisis strikes.
Our standards help to mitigate this risk by giving producers the tools they need for resiliency and help increase their access to healthcare services, sanitation, and preventative resources. When you support Fair Trade Certified™ goods, you can be assured your dollars reach some of the world’s most vulnerable farmers and workers in this time of unprecedented crisis.
We believe our mission of creating a more equitable global trade model is more important than ever now and are taking this further by making accommodations to our business practices. We are temporarily suspending onsite audits, unless deemed critical, until further notice, and all of our employees are working remotely and adhering to their city’s guidance on sheltering. Our intent with these changes is to remove added burdens on farmers and workers while remaining vigilant to the global containment effort. We will communicate out any changes to this plan as we know more.
In the meantime, we thank you for making a conscious choice to support fair trade during this critical time by seeking the seal when you shop for goods like coffee, pantry staples, produce, home goods and more. Our hope is that we strengthen our connections and better understand each other as a global community as we face the challenges ahead of us. Please stay vigilant and safe.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. We made accommodations for certification and auditing processes
In this time of ever-evolving global challenge and uncertainty, Fair Trade USA wants to ensure that our partners’ health and safety are treated as a top priority. This includes all workers, farmers, and fishermen in our certified supply chains, our Certificate Holders’ management and employees, our brands, traders and Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs) and their staff and auditors globally, as well as all related communities.
The new policy below outlines our current and ongoing approach to auditing and certification during the global Covid-19 crisis. This policy is applicable to all applicants and entities certified globally to any standard in the Agriculture, Seafood, Apparel and Home Goods, and Trade programs, effective immediately. It also applies to pilot programs audited against the Agriculture Production Standard, i.e. aquaculture and dairy programs.
Download the Fair Trade USA Certification Accommodation Policy Due to Coronavirus, along with other COVID-19 accommodation policy resources, from our Standards page.
2. We’re using technology and adapting our standards to support workers
Farmers, workers, and fishers around the world have been negatively impacted in various ways by COVID-19. Production activities and supply chains have been interrupted in some countries, while others struggle to maintain operations while keeping their workers safe. To help support in this crisis, we have increased the flexibility of our Community Development Funds. This enables farmers and workers to use them swiftly to address their critical needs. Additionally, we are updating our audiovisual training materials to include physical distancing, sanitation, and hygiene measures and prioritizing content in indigenous languages, where misinformation may be more common. We are encouraged to see our Certificate Holders beginning to use their Community Development Funds to provide immediate relief through cash payments and daily staples to farmers and workers.
To learn how Certificate Holders can mobilize their Community Development Funds, you can download the Fair Trade USA policy on emergency fund use for COVID-19 and the associated template on our Standards page or read our press release on this topic.
3. What you can do: Shop small, shop fair
As economies shut down amidst the pandemic, it’s no exaggeration to say that your decision about where to put your dollars has the power to sustain communities both locally and globally. To help you make smart decisions, we’ve created a shopping guide of small businesses to get you through quarantine, all of which carry Fair Trade Certified products, meaning they have invested in the people in their supply chains. Small businesses in particular need our support to be able to pay their employees and stay afloat during this global crisis. When you support Fair Trade Certified™ goods, you can be assured your dollars reach the some of the world’s most vulnerable workers in this time of unprecedented crisis.
4. Support farmers and workers by donating
The fair trade communities we serve are going to be hit hard by the economic downturn resulting from the global pandemic. You can make a difference in their lives by donating to Fair Trade USA. Communities can use their Fair Trade Community Development Funds to shore up access to healthcare services, sanitation, and critical financial assistance in times of crisis. Your donation helps make this all possible. Thank you for standing with our fair trade communities.
5. Stay connected
As we all find creative new ways to stay connected with friends, family, and communities both local and global, we offer several resources to help you be an advocate from home. The first is our COVID-19 news feed, which we are working to update frequently with news from the field and updates that are pertinent to your life. Knowing the strong impact your fair trade purchases have on the lives of others, you might also try a new recipe with fair trade ingredients, like this avocado chocolate mousse. Most importantly, stay in touch. We may all be working remotely, but we’re very much still here and would love to hear from you.
Watch the video created by Artistic Milliners, the first Fair Trade Certified denim company in Pakistan, about how they are protecting their factory workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.