COVID-19: How Fair Trade USA Is Responding and What You Can Do

We're doing our part to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and so can you.
Mar 23, 2020 4:35 PM ET
Blog

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 workers 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.

Fair Trade Certified standards help to mitigate this risk by giving workers the tools they need for resiliency and help increase their access to healthcare services, sanitation, and preventative resources. When you buy fair trade goods, you can be assured your dollars reach some of the world's most vulnerable 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 we are taking this further by making accommodations to our business practices. We are temporarily suspending onsite audits, unless deemed critical, until April 30th 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 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.

1. We're making 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 Coronavirus 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 (in English)

2. Fair Trade Campaigns National Conference went virtual

As reported last week, we have made the decision to shift our annual Fair Trade Campaigns National Conference (May 18-21) to a fully virtual gathering. This was our first-ever virtual conference, and it presented an opportunity to open up the event to a much wider audience of leaders and activists in the fair trade movement.

The program featured inspiring keynotes, engaging breakout sessions, and workshops on a variety of topics. Conversations highlighted intersections between sustainability, social justice, and fair trade, and explored solutions for a just and sustainable future.

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. 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 some of the world's most vulnerable workers in this time of unprecedented crisis. If you aren't in need of groceries right now, you can still support farmers, workers, and their families by donating to Fair Trade USA.

Check back soon for our shopping guide for small businesses that you can support while seeking the seal.

Kasi Martin
Fair Trade USA