At Dean’s Beans we believe that the way to insure peace and stability in the world is by treating people with respect, and making business a win-win for all involved.We accept responsibility for the conditions we find in the coffeelands, rather than simply take advantage of them for business as usual.This is especially important during the on-going coffee crisis, where low prices continue to drive farmers off the land and deeper into debt. This year, we began a new program to tie our fortunes more directly to those of our southern partners.
As you know, we are 100% Fair Trade, paying the international Fair Trade price of $1.41/lb. for all of our coffees.We have now added a six-cent Social Equity Premium paid back to the farmers for each pound of their coffee that we roast and sell.We are the only company in the USA paying the farmers more than the Fair Trade price. This is our way of taking Fair Trade to the next level, a profit-sharing arrangement that the farmers are free to use for cash distribution, community development, internal expenses or whatever else they decide is their highest priority.
These premiums mean that we are paying the highest Fair Trade prices in the country and that farmers will have needed cash throughout the year.We delivered our first premiums to Pangoa Cooperative in Peru in October of 2003. It was their first Fair Trade sale, and that money combined with our new premium has had a significant impact on the viability of the coop.
We made the first round of payments in July and August, and here are the amounts and what each of the coops did with their Social Equity Premiums:
Pangoa Cooperative.Began new honey business. Paid for exchange of indigenous farmers between Peru and Ecuador to understand the impact of oil and gas development.
Mut Vitz Cooperative.The farmers chose direct distribution to cooperative members for food, schooling and other necessities
CECOCAFEN.Used the money to buy food and shelter (plastic sheets) for some of the15,000 landless coffee workers marching across Nicaragua in protest of land evictions and job losses due to coffee crisis.
Cooperative Café Timor.Purchased medicine for rural clinics in coffee area run by Timorese doctors and paramedics.
Gayo Organic Farmers Cooperative.Purchased total of five water buffalo for eco-management project in village of Wonosari (in conjunction with Cooperative Coffees members).
Oromia Organic Farmers Cooperative Union.Added to “Miriam’s Well” revolving loan fund for well building in coffee villages.
Kway Organic Farmers Cooperative.The coop bought 14 hand de-pulping machines to distribute to the 14 remote airstrips where the farmers must take their coffee and fly it out.At present, the farmers de-pulp by hand, using round stones. The machines will cut back on women’s hard labor and improve bean quality.
To prove the integrity of our actions, our Social Equity Premium program, along with the rest of our Fair Trade practices were independently audited by Quality Assurance International in August of 2004, and will continue to be audited annually.The results of that audit are available on our website, and represent the first independent Fair Trade audit of any company in the USA.. We believe that we should be held to the same high level of transparency and accountability that we in the Fair Trade movement demand of the farmers.After all, we’re partners, aren’t we?