Since 1998, Fair Trade certification has helped the U.S. coffee industry deliver nearly $45 million in community development premiums to hardworking farmers around the world; $11 million in 2010 alone. This premium serves as a key ingredient to the long-term success of Fair Trade coffee cooperatives, as the funds are re-invested back into things like education, environmental stewardship, quality control and community health care.
With increased consumer demand and product availability on the rise, there has never been a more momentous time to make a difference in the lives of farmers, workers and their families. In this overview of the recently released 2010-2011 Coffee Review, you'll see how purchasing Fair Trade products locally results in big impact globally.
Fair Trade USA's Coffee Impact Report highlights significant growth in the specialty coffee market
- Fair Trade premium funds paid to coffee farming communities since 1998: $45 million
- Premiums paid to support community development projects in 2010: $11 million
- Producer groups exporting coffee to the global market: 322
- Top producing countries of Fair Trade coffee: Peru (23%) Nicaragua (16 %) Colombia (11%)
- Percent of Fair Trade Certified coffee imports with organic certification: 62% (over 65 million pounds)
In the U.S. market, Fair Trade has enabled coffee producers to become the best stewards of their land; embracing sustainable practices that conserve natural resources in the long term. In 2010, 30 percent of producer organizations invested a portion of their Fair Trade premiums for community development in environmental initiatives. CoopeTarrazu  is one such organization striving to track the environmental impact coffee harvesting has on their land in the central mountains of San Marcos de Tarrazu in Costa Rica. Since achieving Fair Trade certification  in 2005, the cooperative has dedicated themselves to implementing environmentally sustainable practices that produce quality coffee at no extra cost to their ecosystems.
Not only does the organization adhere to Fair Trade's strong environmental standards- CoopeTarrazu has gone above and beyond to create a culture of environmental respect among community members. With the use of their Fair Trade premium, CoopeTarrazu established the Coffee Culture Quality of Life Sustainability Plan to foster capacity building focusing on sustainable growing and harvesting practices .
The youth in the community also share in this commitment to conserving the health of their environment by engaging in environmental impact research. The local children monitor Costa Rica's bird and insect populations, both of which are essential to a successful coffee production.
For the past three years, Fair Trade USA has been working to improve the relationship between Brazilian Fair Trade coffee farmers and the U.S coffee market through the Responsible Sourcing Partnership (RSP) Project . This project strengthened the production capacity of more than 5,700 small holder farms, and improved their ability to produce high quality beans.
The project educated the cooperatives in best harvest, as well as post- harvest practices, eventually equipping the farmers with skills to utilize 118,136 hectares of sustainable farmland for production . These advances not only enabled the cooperatives to meet market demand for high volumes of Fair Trade Certified coffee- it also led to a 167 percent increase in the sales of Fair Trade Certified products .
This year, Fair Trade USA has partnered with the U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) , and Green Mountain Coffee  to begin a new project in Brazil- the Sustainable Sourcing Partnership which will foster education in biodiversity, conservation, and sustainable agronomy among farmers.
Strengthening Small Farming Communities
To help strengthen the business capacity of small farming communities, Fair Trade USA is engaging cooperatives in trainings around risk management, market access, productivity and quality. To date, these trainings have benefited cooperatives in Africa and Latin American countries and additional trainings will take place in Colombia, Honduras, and Indonesia throughout 2011.
In addition to on-site business education, Fair Trade USA has also entered into a partnership  with the Global Coffee Quality Research Initiative  to provide support for small scale agricultural communities in the developing world whose harvests are affected by ever changing climate patterns. This partnership will provide industry-leading research to help all members of the Fair Trade coffee supply chain face the challenges of climate change
Click HERE to view the full 2010-2011 Coffee Review.