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Bruce Crowther

Wouldn’t it be good to see a Fair Trade Mark on British food so that when people do their shopping they can be sure the farmer is also getting a fair price for his produce? Barbara Panvel argues the case.

In Lancashire Wyre & Fylde councils seeking Fairtrade status are coupling the concept of Fairtrade with giving a fair deal to local food producers. Cumbria has also made the Fairtrade and local produce link a big part of their campaign.

A great campaigner on both issues is Garstang’s Bruce Crowther, founder of the Fairtrade Towns Movement and part time Fairtrade Towns Coordinator, who still works part-time as a vet.

He gave an address in 2002 at Lancaster University and remembered, “hearing a sheep farmer in the UK speak of how he was forced to sell his lamb at less than it cost to produce it".

He added: "It occurred to me that the farmer in question could so easily be a coffee farmer in Peru or a cocoa farmer in Ghana.

“Wouldn’t it be nice to see a Fair Trade Mark on products like milk and British lamb so that when people do their shopping they can be sure that the local farmer is also getting a fair price for his produce.”

Ugandan tea producer Martin Odoch and Devon farmer Andy Bragg have been supporting the campaign to make Devon a Fairtrade County.

They have found out that even though their countries are thousands of miles apart they share the same problems.

Andy supports Fairtrade and feels the UK has something to learn from the initiative: "Fairtrade is a brilliant concept when buying goods that we can't grow in the UK like tea, coffee or fruit, but I wish people would start talking about Fair Trade at home too.”

The Fairtrade logo is currently only applied to goods from the developing world, but as regular Stirrer readers will be aware, the idea of Fair Deal shops – those who offer a decent price to producers – is slowly gaining ground (see link here).

Charlotte Hollins of Fordhall Farm, Shropshire – a community co-operative project - has even nominated her customers.

Bickenhill farmer Brian Swift nominated Rugby Farmers' Mart, now run at Stoneleigh by a co-operative of 250 farmers, where he can sell direct and get a fair price. (see link here).

Hockley Heath dairy Farmer Andrew Hemming, a member of the Birmingham Dairy Producers Co-operative – now supplying Dairy Crest - nominated Waitrose for a Fair Deal Award: “Waitrose have led the way for promoting fair trade for British farmers and we have been able to use their better and fairer terms as leverage to encourage other supermarkets to adopt fairer practices towards their producers.” (see link here).

“I look forward to the day when I can put fairly traded milk in my Fairtrade tea and coffee, says Michael Hart, a Cornish farmer.

Few would disagree with him.



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