Fun news from Green America’s Fair Trade Alliances Newsletter.  For more info on alternative trade models visit:

Congressman Sandy Levin Supports Fair Trade
On March 12, Michigan Congressman Sander Levin publicly declared his support for Fair Trade!  According to an Oakland Press article, “Levin has always been an advocate of ‘Fair Trade’ and has openly challenged the conventional wisdom around ‘free trade.’”

One thing we have learned from globalization is that the global free market system often favors big businesses over workers and small-scale, family farmers who cannot compete with the heavily subsidized agriculture of the US and other countries.  Conventional Trade also makes small producers extremely vulnerable to commodity price fluctuations when they are not protected by the floor price that Fair Trade guarantees.  The “free” market model not only harms producers but also the environment, since producers under free trade agreements with the US are not required to adopt internationally recognized standards for environmental protection.  Also, smaller family-owned farms are inherently more sustainable than large-scale farms.

In March, Congressman Levin became the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives, which means he has a great deal of influence over trade issues. He has previously used his position on the subcommittee on trade to delay free trade agreements that undermine fair trade in the “free” market system. Hopefully he will continue to express the importance of Fair Trade versus some of the ill-effects of free trade and use this powerful position to instill Fair Trade policies within legislation.