In this article, Sarah Lyon explores the impact of fair trade on agricultural laborers within Latin America. She situates fair trade within regional processes of agrarian change, exploring how the movement and certification practices intersect with broader socioeconomic and political forces, paying close attention to fair trade's insertion into local, regional, and national contexts. The data come from three sources: the author's own research among small coffee producers in Guatemala and southern Mexico, related studies on contract labor within small producer fair trade value chains, and an exploration of fair trade standards for plantation production. In its current form, fair trade certification provides few identifiable advantages to waged agricultural laborers. It is critical that certifiers begin to explicitly acknowledge and strengthen the legal frameworks already in place to protect agricultural worker rights. Where these are inadequate, fair trade organizations can and should work with other stakeholders to change both norms and regulations.
1 May 2015