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Message from the Fairtrade Foundation - Please write to your MP

Categories: Articles:Development | Published: 11/04/2014 | Views: 1935
We all know that the brutal and futile retail battles are unsustainable for everyone: consumers at home and farmers and workers in developing countries. If our retailers can’t or won’t act it is up to the government to take action. We are deeply disappointed that Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, is trying to pass the buck. In his response to our campaign, he says he supports Fairtrade’s work and believes that businesses must take a long-term view in the interests of suppliers and consumers. However, he believes the market is working for consumers who get cheap bananas and makes no suggestions as to how UK regulators will uphold the rights of banana farmers.

Why is the government putting the rights of consumers to cheap food above the rights of banana producers to earn a fair price for their produce? This simply isn’t good enough when 75% of banana workers in Ecuador currently do not earn a living wage, and many of them live below the poverty line.

On top of that, our survey says that UK consumers don’t want these price wars carried out ‘in their name.’ A massive 84% of consumers across the UK are willing to pay more for their bananas if the extra benefits farmers and workers’ lives, and 60% of consumers believe the government should step in to ensure supermarkets sell bananas at a price so producers can earn a decent living.

We need to pile the pressure on Vince Cable as much as we can ahead of World Fair Trade Day on May 10th to make our voices heard loud and clear.

What can you do to help?

If you have ONE minute: please sign and share our petition to make bananas fair and encourage your friends and family to do the same. If you have FIVE minutes: contact your MP by letter asking him or her to write to Vince Cable calling on him to protect banana farmers and workers like Foncho. Template letter below, fill in the  gaps and pop it in the post to your local MP. (We know that signed letters posted to MPs from constituents are more likely to get a reply than emails).

Thank you for everything you have done and continue to do - together we will make bananas fair.

Jonathan Smith & Kevin McCullough - Heads of Campaigns, Fairtrade Foundation

Dear <name here> MP,

I'm writing to bring to your attention the Make Bananas Fair Campaign, and request that you contact Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable MP to urge him to take action to prevent retail price wars keeping banana farmers and workers in poverty. In the last 10 years, the UK supermarket sector has almost halved the retail price of loose bananas, whilst the cost of producing them has doubled.

Fairtrade supporters in <place name> have been busy throughout Fairtrade Fortnight raising awareness and gathering support for the petition to Make Bananas Fair. We... <insert details of activities here if appropriate>

Albeiro Alfonso 'Foncho' Cantillo, a banana farmer from Colombia visited the UK during Fairtrade Fortnight to put his name to the campaign and shared his story from the sharp end of this bruising supply chain. You may have met him in the Houses of Parliament during Fairtrade Fortnight. Foncho is able to sell two thirds of his bananas on Fairtrade terms, acting as a vital safety net. However, he also expressed that there are many thousands more farmers and workers who do not have this protection.

We've been struck by the way residents in <place name> have grasped the injustice of the issue and expressed their support. A national survey by polling company ICM found that 84% of British consumers are willing to pay more for their bananas if the extra benefits farmers and workers’ lives. 

It is now time for the government to take action on this.  We urge you to contact the Secretary of State on behalf of your constituents asking him to urgently investigate supermarket price wars on the banana industry, evaluate the impact of these price wars on the long-term interests of banana producers and UK consumers, and take action on the findings.

Here is a more detailed report on the campaign for your information. We would also appreciate you signing EDM number 1130 “Fairtrade’s Make Bananas Fair campaign” and welcome your comments on this situation.

Yours sincerely.

<insert name> on behalf of <place name> Fairtrade Town / Fairtrade Church / individual supporter

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