BELO HORIZONTE, Minas Gerais, Brazil, Nov. 20, 2009 - Winners for this week's Brazilian Fair Trade Certified coffee cupping competition have been announced. Sebastião Reguim of the producer association, Unipcafem, and Marcos Antônio Nali of the producer association, Pró-nova, won first place in the natural and semi-washed coffee categories. The competition, which is a specialized tasting process to assess quality, capped off several months of intensive quality training for farmers and was attended by high-ranking Brazilian and U.S. officials, representatives of the Brazilian coffee industry and international coffee buyers.
The event was sponsored by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Walmart, TransFair USA and the Brazilian non-profit SEBRAE, as part of the Responsible Sourcing Partnership project to benefit farmers throughout Brazil. The project aims to expand and improve the quality of Fair Trade Certified coffee supply though investments in infrastructure, technical assistance with production and post-harvest processing, as well as training in coffee quality management.
"The 2009 Fair Trade Cupping Competition is an important milestone of the Responsible Sourcing Partnership Project," said Lisa Kubiske, Chargé d' Affaires a.i. for the U.S. Embassy in Brazil. "The competition recognizes and rewards premium quality coffee and demonstrates how the Brazilian producers are taking advantage of the economic, social and environmental benefits resulting from the adoption of Fair Trade practices."
USAID, Walmart, TransFair USA and SEBRAE have partnered together on a three-year, public-private responsible sourcing partnership program. From 2007 – 2010, program partners will commit $1.9 million in investments and technical support to help 5,000 famers from the Brazilian states of Sao Paolo, Minas Gerais and Espiritu Santo increase coffee quality, improve cooperative management and enhance marketing.
"We want to congratulate the farmers that participated in the competition and appreciate them for their tireless efforts to bring our members the highest quality coffee," said Jill Turner-Mitchael, senior vice president of Merchandising, Sam's Club. "We are proud that through this partnership, we are giving these farmers the opportunity to continue to improve their operations, compete in the global market and provide a better life for their families and their communities."
Producers and their families benefit from increased employment opportunities, expanded access to new domestic and international markets, increased use of environmentally-sound farming methods, better prices for their coffee beans and overall improvements in their quality of life.
"These coffee farmers have spent the past two years tirelessly working to improve the quality of their crops. They have participated in training sessions, attended specialty coffee conferences, and for the first time, many of their cooperatives have skilled, in-house cuppers," said Paul Rice, president and CEO of TransFair USA. "Because of the Responsible Sourcing Partnership Project, some of the best specialty coffee in Brazil has been uncovered, and we are so proud to say that it is Fair Trade Certified."
In 2008, imports of Fair Trade Certified coffee into the United States grew more than 30 percent. Fair Trade Certification provides higher prices, support for sustainable agriculture and funds for democratically-elected development projects. The Responsible Sourcing Partnership Project is an innovative public-private union designed to amplify the benefits Brazilian farmers gain from Fair Trade, increasing their incomes and capacities going forward.
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 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT), or "Walmart," serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at more than 8,000 retail units under 53 different banners in 15 countries. With fiscal year 2009 sales of $401 billion, Walmart employs more than 2.1 million associates worldwide. A leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity, Walmart ranked first among retailers in Fortune Magazine's 2009 Most Admired Companies survey. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting www.walmartstores.com . Online merchandise sales are available at www.walmart.com  and www.samsclub.com .
About TransFair USA
TransFair USA, a FLO member organization, is the only independent, third-party certifier of Fair Trade Certified™ products in the United States. TransFair USA audits and certifies in accordance with FLO's internationally agreed standards, monitoring 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. TransFair USA certifies coffee and more than 20 other product categories. For more information about TransFair USA, visit www.FairTradeCertified.org 
The Service of Support for the Micro and Small Companies of the State of Minas Gerais - SEBRAE-MG was created in 1972. Its mission is to promote the competitiveness and the sustainable development of the micro and small companies as well as to promote the entrepreneurship in the State of Minas Gerais. It offers entrepreneurial orientation, promotes courses, lectures and projects of managerial training, encourages the formalization, approach the micro and small companies with the market and stimulates the generation of business. SEBRAE-MG, thus, contributes to induce the socioeconomic development of the State of Minas Gerais with the generation of revenue, work, income and better life conditions for the population.
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Ed. Note: Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is the legal trade name of the corporation. The name "Walmart," expressed as one word and without punctuation, is a trademark of the company and is used analogously to describe the company and its stores. Use the trade name when it is necessary to identify the legal entity, such as when reporting financial results, litigation or corporate governance.