Vision and Principles


Our vision includes a world in which:

  • Contributions of all workers and farmers are valued
  • Human rights and human dignity are affirmed and promoted
  • Fair Trade is synonymous with fair wages, fair prices, and fair practices
  • Risks and rewards are equitable and shared, and this information is open and available to all stakeholders
  • Information is readily available on the origin, processing, and distribution of every product
  • All practices, including animal husbandry, are environmentally, economically, and socially just, sustainable, and humane
  • Direct trade and long-term relationships dominate the economy
  • Strong local communities are the foundation of society
  • Power is shared; development is community-driven and cooperative
  • Cultural and indigenous rights and diversity are recognized, honored, and protected.



What follows is our attempt to translate the traditional principles of international fair trade, as expressed by organizations such as the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) and the Fair Trade Federation (FTF), into the domestic, regional and local economic spheres. Our primary goals are to support family-scale farming, to reinforce farmer-led initiatives such as farmer co-operatives, to ensure just conditions for agricultural workers, and to bring these groups together with mission-based traders, retailers, and concerned consumers to contribute to the movement for sustainable agriculture in North America. It is our hope that by maintaining a consistent approach, which shares basic values with international fair trade, we may help create a more holistic model which can be applied wherever trade takes place.
The work of the DFTA is guided by the Principles for Domestic Fair Trade as defined by its members. These principles represent the values which underlie and guide our work together as organizations and individuals united for the promotion of Health, Justice, and Sustainability.


Our Sixteen Principles


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Family Scale Farming. Fair Trade focuses on reinforcing the position of small and family-scale producers that have been or are being marginalized by the mainstream marketplace, as a means of preserving the culture of farming and rural communities, promoting economic democracy, environmental and humane stewardship and biodiversity, and ensuring a healthier and more sustainable planet.
Capacity Building for Producers and Workers. Fair Trade is a means of developing producers and workers independence, strengthening their ability to engage directly with the marketplace, and to gain more control over their futures. The resources from trading relationships are directed toward this purpose in a participatory manner by those who will benefit from them.
Democratic & Participatory Ownership & Control. Fair Trade emphasizes co-operative organization as a means of empowering producers, workers, and consumers to gain more control over their economic and social lives. In situations where such organization is absent, mechanisms will be created to ensure the democratic participation of producers and workers, and the equitable distribution of the fruits of trade.
Rights of Labor. Fair Trade means a safe and healthy working environment for producers and workers and conforms to all International Labour Organization conventions and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The participation of children (if any) does not adversely affect their well-being, security, educational requirements and need for play, and conforms to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as pertinent local/regional laws. Fair Trade ensures that there are mechanisms in place through which hired labor has an independent voice and is included in the benefits of trade through mechanisms such as living wages, profit sharing, and cooperative workplace structures. Apprenticeships are promoted to develop the skills of the next generation of farmers, artisans, and workers.
Equality & Opportunity. Fair Trade emphasizes the empowerment of women, minorities, indigenous peoples and other marginalized members of society to represent their own interests, to participate directly in trade, and to share in its economic benefits.
Direct Trade. Where possible, Fair Trade attempts to reduce the intermediaries between the primary producer and the consumer. This delivers more of the benefits of such trade to the producer and connects consumers more directly with the source of their food and other products, and with the people who produced them.
Fair & Stable Pricing. A fair price is one which has been agreed upon through dialogue and participation. It covers not only the costs of production but enables production which is socially just and environmentally sound. It provides fair pay to the producers, fair wages to workers, and takes into account the principle of equal pay for equal work by women and men. Fair Traders ensure prompt payment and stable pricing which enables producers to plan for the future.
Shared Risk & Affordable Credit. Farmers often bear the greatest risks of agriculture and an unstable marketplace. Fair Traders work to share these risks among producers, processors, marketers and consumers through more equitable trade partnerships, fair and prompt payment, transparent relationships and affordable credit. In situations where access to credit is difficult, or the terms of credit are not beneficial to producers, Fair Traders provide or facilitate access to such credit, or assist producers in creating their own mechanisms for providing credit.
Long-Term Trade Relationships. Fair Trade fosters long-term trade partnerships at all levels within the production, processing and marketing chain that provide producers with stability and opportunities to develop marketing, production and quality skills, as well as access to new markets for their products.
Sustainable Agriculture. Fair Trade emphasizes a holistic approach to agriculture, as defined by Via Campesina to include fishing, hunting and gathering and other means of sourcing food. Fair Trade supports sustainable agriculture practices such as organic, biodynamic, non-toxic bio-intensive integrated pest management, farm diversification, and small-scale farming which protect the environment, sustain farming communities, and provide consumers with quality, healthful food. Fair Trade emphasizes the biodiversity of traditional agriculture, supports the rights of farmers to their own seed, and preserves cultural diversity. Fair Trade also emphasizes sustainable business practices through the entire supply chain, which can include green office operations, use of alternative energies, or other sustainable practices.
Appropriate Technology. Fair Trade supports the use of traditional technologies, which are openly and freely shared in the public domain, and excludes plants, animals, and biological processes which have been genetically engineered or modified. Further, fair trade discourages the use of machinery that threaten the health, safety, and employment opportunities for farmworkers and farm families.
Indigenous Peoples Rights. Fair Trade supports indigenous peoples rights to access land for cultivation, fishing, hunting and gathering in customary and traditional ways, to freely exchange seeds and to retain rights to their germplasm. We fully support the right of indigenous and all peoples to food sovereignty.
Transparency & Accountability. The Fair Trade system depends on transparency of costs, pricing and structures at all levels of the trading system. Fair Traders are accountable to each other and the wider community by openly sharing such information.
Education & Advocacy. Fair Trade emphasizes education at all levels of the agricultural chain, engaging farmers, workers, traders and consumers in advocating for a more equitable, democratic and sustainable economy. Fair Traders in particular educate consumers about the inequities of the trading system and the need for alternatives, while sharing information with producers about the marketplace. Education strengthens the Fair Trade movement and empowers its stakeholders in creating a better world for everyone.
Responsible Certification and Marketing. Domestic Fair Trade (DFT) should represent substantive and qualitative differences from the conventional food and agriculture system. DFT programs should be inclusive of and accountable to all stakeholders, focusing on benefiting those most marginalized in our current food and agriculture system (such as workers and small-scale producers). Certification programs should follow good practices of third-party systems and/or participatory guarantee including complaints processes, transparency about the decision-making process, and adequate accreditation and oversight. All market claims and labels of international or domestic fair trade, social justice, or related claims, whether part of a certification process or not, should be accurate, clear, and verifiable.
Animal Welfare. Fair Trade ensures every animal raised for or used in production of meat, dairy, egg, honey, and other products has access to clean water, fresh air, appropriate feed, an appropriate physical environment, and adequate health care. Animals on Fair Trade farms are provided with the environment, housing, and diet they need to engage in natural behaviors, thereby promoting physiological and psychological health and well-being.