Let’s take a moment to think about our morning coffee. While we may be far from the Guatemalan Huehuetenango Highland or the Alajuela Province of Costa Rica, we brew ourselves a rich cup of Fair Trade coffee and for a brief moment we feel connected to the people and land that brought it to us.
Now imagine that a destructive coffee leaf fungus is spreading through Central America like wildfire, attacking coffee leaves and destroying the tree's ability to produce coffee. It's an outbreak that has the potential to decrease coffee production in the region by up to 50% in the next two years. The small-scale coffee farmers who work hard to supply quality beans to the U.S. market, the same coffee we drink each morning, are now facing a tremendous crisis. With reduced production, they're wondering how they will feed their families next year; some may be forced to migrate to cities in search of work.
Unfortunately, this is not something we have to imagine. As we speak, an outbreak of coffee leaf rust, or roya, is sweeping through farms in countries like Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and El Salvador; Guatemala has even declared a state of emergency.
High poverty levels and an inability to invest in prevention techniques leave small farmers particularly vulnerable to rust.
“This is a critical moment for small producers,” said Antonio Cordon of CRECER . "Those that can’t update their farming techniques will be forced to abandon production.” This is something that affects everyone in coffee--from farmers to consumers.
How can you take action, you ask? To help our farming partners in Central America fight and prevent the roya outbreak, we’ve just launched the Rust Response Fund , an initiative that allows consumers, companies and organizations to donate directly to farming groups.
In addition to Fair Trade USA’s $50,000 donation to the fund, 100% of public donations collected will go to Fair Trade cooperatives in the most affected regions to help small farmers invest in projects like plant rehabilitation, farmer training, organic application, soil management, and hiring rust consultants.
Donating to the Rust Response Fund  will help small-scale coffee farmers take control of the current situation, and build resilience to fight future outbreaks. Together let's extend a hand to those farmers who help us start each day, and help them protect their coffee trees for generations to come.
To learn more about the Rust Response Fund, and to DONATE NOW, please visit: http://fairtradeusa.org/donate/rust-defense 
Contributions of all sizes are welcome.