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EDITIONS
 Friday, 3 January, 2003, 15:45 GMT
British farmers join Fairtrade scheme
Farmer sowing seeds with tractor
The Fairtrade scheme aims to help farmers
Food produced in Britain is set to be made part of the Fairtrade scheme designed to prevent the exploitation of Third World farmers.

A pilot project announced at the Soil Association's annual conference in Gloucestershire will see British farmers get a fairer price for their produce.

Under the scheme, the price farmers are paid must cover the sustainable cost of production, together with a margin for profit and investment.

Prince Charles has given the project his backing, saying fair trade is something that should begin at home.

People talk about the food chain in the food industry but in reality it's a fear chain

Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association

Fairtrade was set up to help farmers in developing countries, but now companies selling products from UK farms can apply to carry the Fairtrade mark.

Patrick Holden, director of the Soil Association, said: "Many farmers around the world are suffering from prices which do not cover the cost of production, and this is certainly true in the UK.

"People talk about the food chain in the food industry but in reality it's a fear chain," he added.

"Everyone involved is frightened of losing out - the buyer of not meeting his profit margin, the packer of being de-listed by the supermarkets, the grower of being priced out of business.

Benefits extended

"Existing trading practices contribute to this problem and this new scheme will help promote the changes needed to ensure a fair return to farmers."

Harriet Lamb, executive director of the Fairtrade Foundation, said: "The success of Fairtrade in getting a better deal for producers of major global commodities like coffee has shown alternative forms of trade are viable.

"We are keen to extend the benefits of Fairtrade to more producers."

The conference, 'Trading Fairly from Plough to Plate' is taking place at the Royal Agricultural College at Cirencester.

Other topics due to be discussed include issues surrounding GM crops.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"It's an experimental scheme"

Click here to go to BBC Gloucestershire
See also:

26 Nov 02 | Business
17 Oct 02 | Business
18 Jun 02 | Business
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