A recent motion put forward and carried by Derbyshire County Council paved the way for Derbyshire to become a Fairtrade County.
In Matlock we have motions of support from The Town, District and County Councils, all of whom are based in the town. The new move by the County Council follows the District Council’s push to become a Fairtrade District.
(a) Motion received from Councillor Mrs I Ratcliffe:
That this County Council commits to becoming a Fairtrade County Council and when it achieves the five goals required seeks certification from the Fairtrade Foundation.
Councillor Ratcliffe went on to say:
“ Thank you Chair, fellow councillors, officers and members of the public. It is the ambition of the Fairtrade Movement, like it is here within this Council, to tackle poverty. I will take a deep breath so we can just take that in.
We know as a Council, and indeed so does the Fairtrade Foundation Movement, that they cannot solve all problems of abject poverty related specifically to rural deprivation on it’s own. However, we can commit to playing a part in addressing the associated challenges ahead here in Derbyshire and if this motion, if you choose is successful, beyond our shores.
This motion will not detract this Council’s focus on addressing the poverty, inequalities and social justice for those it serves, is responsible for and to, but surely we can stretch out a hand across the world to rural producers and landless agricultural workers living on the edge of so many social injustices, inequalities, poor health, public sanitation and disasters both natural and man-made.
Fairtrade is about trade not aid and as a number of ethical labels are growing Fairtrade stands out as unique while other schemes aim to protect the environment or enable companies to trace their products, but Fairtrade is the only scheme whose main purpose is to tackle poverty through trade, fixed price for products, fair wages and rights that acknowledge work that workers can collectively gather. It has a premium that through its decision making processes improves working conditions and community amenities. It is the most widely recognised ethical label in the world.
As the Fairtrade Mark celebrates its 20th birthday it is noted that businesses have started to recognise the importance of sustainable and smallholding farming. It is rising up there on the political agenda and in an increasing resource scarce world this demands radical new ways of living, working and doing business.
In this tough economic climate we know that tackling poverty is the way forward. Shoppers are watching food prices rise and with concerns at the cost of living, but at the same time as they are concerned they expect more from companies too more than ever and are putting pressure on businesses to act responsibly and put sustainability at the heart of what they do. This has intensified, including how to treat farmers and workers who supply to them. It is called “unlocking the power of many”. Millions of smallholding farmers sell to a handful of companies who sell to billions of consumers like you and me. Look at coffee? 25 million smallholding farmers sell into a market of which 40% is controlled by just four companies, so why wouldn’t Derbyshire County Council as an important consumer and opinion leader not research, develop and support a strategy to facilitate the promotion and purchase of Fairtrade marked products as its commitment to a pursuit of sustainable development here in Derbyshire and beyond to give such marginal rural producers and workers a fair deal?
Chair, I so move this and hope that other people can support this motion. I am happy to take questions.” (Applause followed)
The motion was seconded by Councillor C Neill
“It is with great pleasure that I second this motion. I grew up wanting to save the world and my first ever full-time job was with Oxfam. While working for them I had the good fortune to meet people who had benefited from the fair trade premium paid – usually to their co-operative. And as a co-op councillor and a member of the co-op party national executive committee, I am proud of the support that the movement and indeed co-op shops have provided to the people who produce the staples on which we have come to rely. As in this country, we need the economy to grow so that more people pay tax which in turn can be used to restore our public services. So it is true in other countries. Trading with nations creates a sustainability that will ultimately save us money because they won’t need so much in aid.