Advancing Domestic Fair Trade

Committing to domestic fair trade is essential to achieving a fair and environmentally sustainable agricultural system. Unfortunately, domestic fair trade is currently not the norm. That’s why we need cutting edge research to ensure that domestic fair trade is viable in every sector of the agricultural supply chain. Learn more about our current research projects below!

Partnership with the Center for Fair and Alternative Trade

Our members know that creating fair and sustainable supply chains is not easy. The DFTA is partnering with the Center for Fair and Alternative Trade (CFAT) at Colorado State University to do research that identifies successes and challenges to building supply chains that center fairness at every stage. This research will provide insight on how the DFTA and our members can alleviate some of the challenges that arise.
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This research project has three phases:

  1. A Report on Market Supply Chain Research on Domestic Fair Trade

    While much is known about international fair trade, much less is understood in the North American context about the value of “domestic fair trade” messaging. The overall goal of this research phase, therefore, is to synthesize all of the current research on domestic fair trade (academic, media, and industry) and determine the potential of domestic fair trade as a market and consumer category.

    Read our brand new report! Released just in time for Fair Trade Day 2018!


  3. Case Studies

  4. This research phase will help DFTA members understand what domestic fair trade practices are most innovative, where there are challenges, and how experiences compare across different markets and products. It will focus on goals versus outcomes, labor practices, market dynamics, social, political, and economic opportunities and barriers, consumer relations, and sectoral divisions and overlaps. Case studies will include existing research, media reports, information from organizational websites and documents, and interviews.


  5. Political Participation

  6. When we consider the political barriers and opportunities that DFTA members face, we can more easily find a collective platform to engage in new campaigns. This part of the research project will examine how members of the DFTA can work together to develop a holistic agenda in the economic and political arena.

CFAT is an internationally recognized research facility dedicated to the rapidly growing field of market-based social change and environmental protection. Through a variety of research and outreach activities, CFAT produces in-depth analyses of current initiatives, future opportunities, and on-going dilemmas to better understand the potential and limits of fair and alternative trade, product certification schemes, and other aspects of the emerging conscious consumer movement. This partnership is a part of CFAT’s “Food Justice: Production to Consumption” research area.

Collaboration with the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems

Photo Booth 2 (1)The UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS) is leading a participatory effort to better understand labor issues on small- and medium-scale farms involved in local and regional food systems. In addition to the DFTA and UW-Madison researchers representing diverse fields of study (economics, sociology, human ecology, law and anthropology), project partners include the UW-Extension School for Workers, Wisconsin Farmers Union, the Labor Network for Sustainability, national and international labor experts, and family farmers. This project builds on and expands the work of the Agriculture of the Middle project by exploring fair trade strategies for values-based supply chains, especially for mid-scale farms. It is funded by the USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and is part of the “Understanding Domestic Fair Trade for Agriculture in the Middle” CIAS research area.
This project includes:

  1. Case Studies: Researchers examine different examples of how to achieve a fair return on labor and just working conditions for farmers and agricultural workers in small supply chains
  2. Participatory research: UW-CIAS researchers attended both the 2016 and 2017 Domestic Fair Trade Conference
  3. Communications: creation of research-based education materials to be distributed widely