Quite simply, small-scale farmers provide us with high quality, healthy food. They also take care of the land through sustainable farming, which protects forests, soil and watersheds, and helps cool the planet. Small farmer co-operatives encourage democratic decision-making, provide dignified livelihoods for their members, and give opportunities for producers to feel pride in their accomplishments, as well as hope for their futures. These organizations help keep communities healthy and strong, and keep local cultures vibrant. They provide real alternatives to migration, gangs, and the cultivation of coca and other illegal crops.
Today, however, small-scale farmers face tremendous challenges. Many agriculture and trade policies are designed to favor large corporations. The subsidies, credits and tax incentives the government awards to agribusiness dramatically undermine the ability of small farmers to compete in the marketplace. Even our energy policies and consumption patterns, which contribute to global warming, affect small farmers disproportionately. Although they farm in ways that steward the land and keep the planet cool, global warming causes changes in weather patterns which affect crops and crop cycles. Unusual storms have become more frequent and severe, causing a loss of lives, homes, crops and livelihoods.
So what can we do?
We can take steps to ensure that we leave a greener planet for our children. We can take back the food system to maintain our connection to the land, the food we eat, and the farmers who grow it. We can demand the right to know what’s in our food and to have real choices over what we eat and from whom we buy. We can continue to support small farmers by purchasing Fair Trade products, buying from co-operatives, and supporting local farmers in our own communities. We can exercise consumer power through our purchases and reduce our environmental footprints through changes in behavior.
If you’re interested in supporting our farmer partners in their efforts to green the planet, here are two immediate actions you can take:
• Continue to purchase Equal Exchange coffee, tea, chocolate and snacks and encourage your friends and neighbors to do the same. Starting on Earth Day (April 22, 2007) and going throughout 2008, Equal Exchange will donate 20 cents/package of all purchases of LOVE BUZZ into our Small Farmers. Green Planet. fund. This money will go directly to our farmer partners in Mexico, Nicaragua, and Colombia to support their reforestation, organic conversion, and environmental protection efforts. Read about these projects at www.smallfarmersbigchange.coop
Write a check to Grassroots International and send it to:
50 United Drive
West Bridgewater, MA 02379
– Visit the Equal Exchange website at www.equalexchange.coop to learn more about the company’s history, mission and products.
– Read more about our campaign for a green and more just food system at www.smallfarmersbigchange.coop.
– Visit Equal Exchange’s Myspace page at www.myspace.com/equalexchange.