Documents: Donna's Picks:

Fair Trade for the PEI Farm Industry
by Prince Edward Island ADAPT Council
August 21, 2011

Fair trade is a concept more and more consumers are embracing. Now, farmers on Prince Edward Island want to get involved as well.

Although the "fair trade" concept most often refers to products originating in the developing world, members of the National Farmer’s Union, District 1, Region 1, want to develop a domestic version of fair trade that could help producers reach the promise land of profitability.

The "fair trade" seal assures the end consumer that the product is produced in a sustainable manner and the producer has received a fair price for his or her efforts. It also ensures Canadians a supply of food grown in an economically and socially sustainable manner.

With funding help from the P.E.I. ADAPT Council, the NFU has hired education and community development centre, Cooper Institute, to co-ordinate the fair trade effort. The institute’s Ann Wheatley has worked extensively on the project for the last year. She said the first step was to hold a series of province-wide consultations involving both farmers and non-farmers.

These consultations looked at successful case studies from around the world, focusing on domestic markets rather than the international marketplace. There were also workshops dealing with standards and certification, labeling, price-setting and marketing.

Renwick Rose, chief negotiator for the Windward Islands Farmers Association, was a guest at one of the sessions and talked about how banana farmers in the Caribbean established a fair trade system there. Stewart Wells, a former national president of the National Farmers Union, also took part in the marketing discussions.

As a result, a draft plan was developed that has received the seal of approval from NFU members in P.E.I. That plan promotes co-operation rather than competition among producers and the right of all consumers to safe, good quality food.

The draft plan stresses participation by both producers and consumers at all levels, and a pricing system that is fair to both groups. It also stresses food sovereignty, meaning the needs of the Canadian market would be taken care of before food was destined for export.

Although the development of the plan brings the ADAPT funded project to a conclusion, Wheatley said the work of promoting a domestic fair trade system is just beginning.

"Right now, we are trying to increase public understanding of what we mean by domestic fair trade, and we will be holding a number of events over the next several months. We are concentrating on P.E.I. in the beginning but this will need nation-wide support in order to become a reality," she said.

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row