On Organic Farming, Fair Trading and Social Justice

It is very admirable that the fairtrade movement has an incredibly strong following in the UK and it is equally surprising that in this country very few people actually appreciate that the guiding principles of organic farming reach far beyond the very important principle of sustainability and embrace firmly the principles of fairness and social justice.

Organic standards across the globe are aligned with and regulated by the key principles of International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (“IFOAM”).  The third of IFOAM’s ‘Principles of Organic Agriculture’ is the principle of fairness. In accordance with this principle:

  1. Organic Agriculture should build on relationships that ensure fairness with regard to the common environment and life opportunities.
  2. Fairness is characterised by equity, respect, justice and stewardship of the shared world, both among people and in their relations to other living beings.
  3. Those involved in organic agriculture should conduct human relationships in a manner that ensures fairness at all levels and to all parties – farmers, workers, processors, distributors, traders and consumers.  Organic agriculture should provide everyone involved with a good quality of life, and contribute to food sovereignty and reduction of poverty.  It aims to produce a sufficient supply of good quality food and other products.
  4. Social justice and social rights are an integral part of organic agriculture and processing. 

It is not surprising that organic certification goes hand in hand with fairtrade certification in the majority of cases of small farmers’ organisations such as growers’ cooperatives.  In effect, compliance with organic standards effectively insures compliance with fairtrade standards and turns the process of obtaining a fairtrade certification into a technicality.  All of the cooperative organic coffees that we have offered to date, have been fairtrade certified at origin.

Coffees that come from a single coffee farm or estate tend not to be covered by fairtrade standards in the same way as small farmers’ organisations are and therefore the fairness and social justice are guided mostly by the organic principles as devised by IFOAM.  Finally, as we are dealing with decommoditised speciality grade coffees only, the single estates and farms that grow our coffees are paid international premium prices for their produce as they tend to sell directly to international specialist green coffee buyers and roasting organisations.


Beanberry Coffee
Beanberry Coffee