Councillor Paul Johnston, who has campaigned for Fairtrade in Aberdeenshire said:
“I have written to Gordon MP, Colin Clark to ask him, as the local MP and as a farmer to support the all party Early Day motion 142 in the House of Commons on Sainsbury’s move to break with Fairtrade and create their own system of ‘fairly traded’ labelled tea.
The text of the letter is below.
I have signed a national petition and urge others to do likewise. HERE
This move by Sainsbury’s sets a very undesirable precedent that will damage the ability of Farmers in developing countries to trade fairly with large corporate supermarket groups as other will follow suit. Like Sainsbury they will wish to “secure their supply chain” but in reality it will weaken the ability of Farmers to trade and take away their say on how part of the profits are used in supporting their developement.”
The Letter sent to Colin Clark MP
Hope this finds you well. Good to see you doing the rounds at Meldrum Sports and no doubt I will bump into you at one or other of the forthcoming north east events.
I had to write to you though, to ask for your support for an early day motion.
Early day motion 142
While it is in the name of Caroline Lucas, I hope that you note that Peter Bottomley MP is a sponsor. This is truly a cross party EDM. I am sure that you will have got the hang of the system and that your support for an EDM is often considered a back bench prerogative for issues that you personally, or those of your constituents find important.
In this case, the EDM is important to many people around Aberdeenshire who support Fairtrade.
Sainsbury’s are using their muscle on small local farmers. Essentially imagine if a major supermarket dictated to members of ANM group, or any farmers co-operative group, what the profits should be spent on in terms of benefiting members. Now imagine what it would be like for farmers in developing countries with little access to the same support systems that we have here.
As a farmer I hope you will empathise with those farmers who have banded together to work within Fairtrade certification. Its not uncommon for such groups in Scotland for quality certifications as you well know. But these farmers are not being given the choice and they have little power other than to be told by Sainsbury’s their hard work to get that Fairtrade certification is to be diluted by contracting to Sainsbury’s own system.
It’s not so much about how good, bad or indifferent Sainsbury’s certification system is (Its not that good actually), but more about how it breaks up farmers’ own system of Fairtrade certification and as another proposal from a major supermarket (TESCO) suggests, it will set an incredibly undesirable precedent for farmers.
I hope you can support the Early Day Motion and by doing so show support as well for all of those groups in Aberdeenshire who have worked for Fairtrade status in towns and villages such as Inverurie, Ellon, and my own area of Mid Formartine. The Scottish Fairtrade forum have produced a briefing which might help. This is the link to their site. HERE
The best way for a big supermarket to protect its supply chain is to give fair prices to farmers. That’s the case here and so it should also be the case in developing countries, especially where the farmers have worked hard for their Fairtrade certification.
Hope you can support this.
Cllr Paul Johnston
01651-851198 Tel Office
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