OAKLAND, Calif., February 15, 2011 – U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Green Mountain Coffee®, and Fair Trade USA today announce a new partnership to promote biodiversity, conservation, and environmental education among Brazil’s coffee growing communities, as biodiverse ecosystems form an important foundation for economic and social development.
Fair Trade certification offers coffee farmers fair prices, community investment funds, and the business skills to produce high-quality products that respect the environment and can compete in the global marketplace. The new initiative—the Sustainable Sourcing Partnership Project — aims to increase producer organizations’ understanding of and compliance with Fair Trade environmental standards and Brazilian environmental law. The collaboration is designed to support Fair Trade certification for new producer organizations and increase the amount of land under enhanced environmental protection through this certification. The project will also support producer organizations interested in organic production and promote marketplace access for their products.
“USAID believes that this partnership will make an important contribution towards environmental conservation and effective natural resources management by working closely with small coffee producers so that they may benefit from economic opportunities made available by utilizing sound environmental practices,” said Denny Robertson, USAID Mission Director to Brazil.
The new collaboration will build on the success of previous programs from USAID and Fair Trade USA to enable participating farmers to continue to make high-volume sales, while diversifying their client bases with higher-value sales to new sustainability- and quality-oriented customers such as Green Mountain Coffee. Green Mountain Coffee and USAID both contributed $200,000 to fund the initiative, and Fair Trade USA is spearheading the program and providing technical and staff expertise. In 2010, Green Mountain Coffee substantially increased its commitment to responsible sourcing by converting two of its most popular coffees to be Fair Trade Certified™.
”We fully endorse the goals of the Sustainable Sourcing Partnership in Brazil, which align with Green Mountain Coffee’s commitment to grow purchases of Fair Trade Certified coffee,” said Lindsey Bolger, Senior Director of Coffee Sourcing and Relationships for the Specialty Coffee business unit of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. “We are pleased to participate in this comprehensive program that is focused on helping coffee farming families improve their livelihoods and the biodiversity of their farms. We are confident that this partnership will be a win for consumers and a win for Fair Trade coffee farming families in Brazil.”
The global coffee marketplace is characterized by intense price volatility, imbalances of power, acute dependence on chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and other challenges to the survival of small-holder coffee farmers and the sustainability of coffee agro-ecosystems. In this climate, farmers have been forced to focus on increasing their yields of specific export-oriented varieties in order to survive—often without a focus on either quality or sustainability. This industrialization process has resulted in extensive deforestation, as tracts of land are cleared to produce large plantations of higher yielding coffee varieties, grown without the shade of natural vegetation. As the world’s single most important coffee producer by volume, Brazil has become largely synonymous with this industrial-scale approach to coffee production.
The two-year initiative is designed to maximize the sustainability of Brazilian small-holder coffee cooperatives by delivering technical assistance in three key areas: 1) increasing the Brazilian hectareage under cultivation according to Fair Trade’s environmental standards through new producer outreach, training, and certification; 2) strengthening the ability of Brazilian small-holders to produce organic-certified coffees for export to the U.S. marketplace; and 3) building local capacity for more sustainable agronomy.
“This project personifies the goals of Fair Trade by producing quality products that improve lives and protect the environment,” said Paul Rice, President and CEO of Fair Trade USA. “We’re excited to once again work with USAID and Green Mountain Coffee to promote sustainable and organic agriculture. The results of this program will offer these hard-working farmers long-term business skills and sustainable agriculture practices that will support these communities for generations to come.”
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USAID is an independent federal government agency receiving overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State. Our work supports long-term and equitable economic growth and advances U.S. foreign policy objectives by supporting global health, economic growth, agriculture and trade, democracy, conflict prevention, and humanitarian assistance. In Brazil, USAID supports Brazilian efforts towards sustainable socio and economic development, while strengthening the partnership between the United States and Brazil. For more information about USAID, visit brazil.usaid.gov.
About Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc.
As a leader in specialty coffee and coffee makers, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Inc. (NASDAQ: GMCR) is recognized for its award-winning coffees, innovative brewing technology, and socially responsible business practices. GMCR’s operations are managed through three business units. The Keurig business unit is comprised of Keurig, Incorporated, a wholly owned subsidiary of GMCR. Keurig is a pioneer and leading manufacturer of gourmet single-cup brewing systems for both at-home and away-from home use, predominantly in North America. The Specialty Coffee business unit produces, markets and sells coffee, tea, hot cocoa and other beverages in a variety of packaging formats, including K-Cup® portion packs for Keurig Single-Cup Brewers. The Specialty Coffee business unit’s family of brands includes Green Mountain Coffee®, Tully’s Coffee®, Timothy’s World Coffee®, Diedrich Coffee®, and Coffee People®, as well as its licensed brands of Bigelow®, Caribou Coffee®, Celestial Seasonings®, Emeril’s®, Gloria Jean’s®, Kahlua®, Newman’s Own® Organics and Twinings®. The Canadian business unit, which is primarily the former Van Houtte business, produces, markets and sells Van Houtte®, Brûlerie St. Denis®, Les Cafés Orient Express Coffee®, and Brûlerie Mont Royal® coffees in K-Cup® portion packs and other packaging formats and is responsible for managing the Van Houtte business as well as the grocery channel for all GMCR coffee brand sales in Canada. GMCR supports local and global communities by offsetting 100% of its direct greenhouse gas emissions, investing in sustainably-grown coffee, and donating at least five percent of its pre-tax profits to social and environmental projects.
Fair Trade USA
Fair Trade USA (previously TransFair USA), a nonprofit organization, is the leading third-party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States. Fair Trade USA audits and certifies transactions between U.S. companies and their international suppliers to guarantee that the farmers and workers producing Fair Trade Certified goods were paid fair prices and wages, work in safe conditions, protect the environment, and receive community development funds to empower and uplift their communities. Fair Trade USA educates consumers, brings new manufacturers and retailers into the Fair Trade system, and provides farming communities with tools, training and resources to thrive as international businesspeople. Visit www.FairTradeUSA.org  for more information.