Fair Trade Certification Program
Driscoll’s is committed to the well-being of our workforce and their communities. This led us to establish our global labor standards and to work with our independent growers to ensure social compliance through audits and ranch improvement plans, but we knew we could do more. We partnered with Fair Trade USA because their certification not only aligns with our social compliance standards, but also generates a premium that goes directly back to the growing communities.
In January 2016, Fair Trade Certified organic strawberries and raspberries from Baja, Mexico came to market. The program started small, pinpointing a specific region that could benefit with limited quantity. Given the success of the program, we’ve expanded to certify more farms and bring Fair Trade Certified organic blackberries and blueberries to market. Scaling the program means more funds to improve the lives of the farmworkers and their communities. We’re continuing to monitor success and hope in the future to continue to expand its reach.
How Does the Fair Trade Certified Program Work?
The Fair Trade Certified™ process includes a certification that upholds strict environmental and social standards that aligns with Driscoll’s comprehensive global labor standards. A key benefit is a democratic system in which Fair Trade Committees made up of local farmworkers are elected to represent their communities and determine how funds raised through the premium will be invested. Through a combination of survey results and focus groups, the Fair Trade Committee elects the areas that will benefit them the most.
As part of best practices and to create understanding of the program’s full potential, the Fair Trade Committee also visits other Fair Trade USA farms within Mexico. Additionally, a more formalized Social Engagement Committee was created through the Fair Trade Certified™ organic program to increase communication between the employees and farm management.
Impact of Driscoll's Fair Trade Certified™ Funds
Every time you buy a package of Fair Trade Certified berries, you are contributing to the Community Development Funds that address the local needs of our workers’ communities. Since its inception:
• More than 2 million crates of Fair Trade berries have been sold
• 6,500 workers are employed on Fair Trade farms
• 3,000 workers trained on work place safety and workers' rights
• Nearly 1 million dollars in funds have been generated to go back into projects that benefit the communities where our berries are grown
With the funds generated from the sales of Fair Trade Certified Berries, the Committee voted to invest in much needed health and educational projects.
Health Fairs Offering Free Medical Services
Although Driscoll’s mandates their growers to pay social security that can go toward doctor’s visits, there is limited availability of health clinics and hospitals in the community. This led the committee to organize health fairs so the community can gain access to the services they need.
More than 80 volunteers joined 38 doctors as well as more than 100 medical students across Baja California at the Restaurante Misión Santa Isabel in San Quintín on May 6th and 7th 2017 to provide hundreds of medical exams to community members and their families. As well, more than 500 contact lenses, 1,200 toothbrushes and toothpastes and dozens of education seminars to community members were offered at no cost.
Also, on July 7-9, 2018 in Baja, Mexico, more than 1027 farmworkers and family members received much needed dental care. 100 dentists and specialists as well as 3 partner organizations volunteered their services.
Distribution of School Supplies
Given the high cost of basic supplies needed to attend school, some children are forced to drop out. To address this need, more than 1,700 packages of school supplies were distributed to Baja families. Volunteers came together to distribute the backpacks filled with crayons, pencils, scissors, and basic stationery. This simple act could have enormous positive implications for school attendance in their community.
A lot of hard work and coordination goes into these projects which is why only a portion of the fund has been spent to date. As the program continues to mature, we’re excited to see the impact the Fair Trade premium has on the communities in which we grow our berries.
What is Fair Trade USA?
Fair Trade USA is a nonprofit organization that seeks to cultivate the conscious consumer and eliminate exploitation. They do this through a market-based approach that ensures sustainable livelihoods, safe working conditions, environmental protection, and community resources for farmers and workers around the world. Its trusted Fair Trade Certified™ label signifies that rigorous standards have been met in the production, trade and promotion of Fair Trade products from over 80 countries across the globe. Recognized as a leading social venture by the Clinton Global Initiative, the Skoll Foundation and Ashoka, Fair Trade USA also provides critical capacity-building programs at origin, and educates consumers about the power of their purchase.
Visit Fair Trade USA to learn more or see examples of how developing communities have used the funds from Fair Trade to improve their quality of life.
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