The central goal of this project has been to start laying the groundwork for local fair trade by helping family-scale farmers improve their labor policies and their capacity to calculate their costs of production. To accomplish this, I enlisted the help of Extension Agent Robert Hadad. We designed and delivered a series of workshops on “Bringing Fair Trade Home,” where we presented information on NYS labor law, fair labor policies, safety training for employees, conflict resolution processes, and how to keep the records a farmer needs to figure out how much the farm is spending on all production costs, including both fixed and variable expenses. Without these records, it is not possible to know what a fair price should be. I wrote a series of articles for the shareholders of the Abundance newsletter to help them understand the economic realities of local farms and the pricing needs of local farmers. As a result of the workshops, six of the ten farmers who filled out the evaluation said they intend to write out labor policies for their farms, 5 plan to establish a conflict resolution process, 5 intend to change their labor policies, 5 plan to do regular safety trainings with employees, 8 plan to keep better records for calculating production costs, and 7 plan to reexamine how they do pricing. Three farmers have told me they are ready to try out a fair trade label and AJP certification.
This project will help farmers, their employees and their buyers gain a better understanding of how to conduct trade that is fair to all parties. The project will produce a Tool-Kit of templates for developing clear, written employment and safety policies for workers and interns on family-scale farms and written contracts or agreements between farms and buyers and provide training in how to negotiate terms in a participatory way and how to implement them.
The Tool-Kit will also include an annotated list of resources for calculating farm costs of production to assist farmers in pricing their products so that they can receive a fair price.
Based on her years of experience and interviews with farmers involved in this project, the project leader will write a series of articles documenting the economic realities of family-scale local farms for the newsletters of participating food coops and farmers markets to help customers understand fair pricing.