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Iowa Farmers Give Fair Trade a Fair Shake

May 8, 2008

Des Moines, IA - Iowa's farmers want to give fair trade a fair shake in their state. Saturday is "World Fair Trade Day," promoting a worldwide movement to provide farmers with a living wage while protecting the environment in developing countries. The event will also encourage consumers to make fair trade items a larger percentage of their purchases throughout the year.

Iowa vegetable producer Rick Hartmann thinks fair trade practices could also be applied to local farmers.

"If you look at the direct market movement in Iowa you incorporate a lot of the benefits of the fair trade system for local farmers."

Hartmann believes direct marketing includes not only farmers' markets, but farmers selling directly to consumers and institutions. He says there are farmers in Iowa who could meet the fair trade certification requirements today.

"Here in Iowa we probably have a number of lower-resource farmers that could be certified fair trade The question is, why don't we expand fair trade certification to our own farmers?"

Hartmann says if consumers purchased more of their food directly from farmers, it would allow the growers to make a livable wage, and more small-scale farmers mean less of an environmental footprint because of their lower-impact production methods.

More information on "World Fair Trade Day" can be found at www.wftday.org.

Dick Layman/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - IA