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Woodstock Gets the Push to Become a Fair Trade City

The city is feeling the pressure to join nearly 1,400 communities that have taken part in the Fair Trade Program.

WOODSTOCK - A push is being made to make Woodstock a Fair Trade City.  Fair trade is when products like coffee and chocolate are imported from a developing country at a fair cost to the farmer.  For example the coffee is purchased a $1.40 a pound so the farmer in the developing country can make a decent profit and invest in the community.  In order for Woodstock to join other cities in promoting fair trade they need to have 8 retailers carry fair trade products and have at least 4 restaurants to offer fair trade products as well.  Program Director for YNC Youth, Dave Steenburg, wants the public awareness to grow in an attempt for Woodstock to become a Fair Trade City.  "People don't understand it.  If we had 10 people that understood it, one of those people would probably support it.  Fair Trade is a bit more expensive, it is making sure that the person at the beginning of the whole supply chain is actually able to feed their family.  It will always be more expensive, therefore it will always be a minority that's willing to make the moral commitment."       

Currently Woodstock is on the borderline of becoming a Fair Trade City, and Dave Steenburg, knows with the potential of bringing University of Ottawa to the city will only help move this program forward.  "In part I think that's valuable as the University of Ottawa looks at coming here, they are a Fair Trade campus they've already made that moral commitment that is one of their values.  I think part of the argument for Woodstock is realizing the value of that is to recognize they are identifying with a progressive part of the national community."         

Over 1400 communities in 24 countries now qualify to as Fair Trade Towns Program, and Steenburg, explains how this was never to give these farmers more access to the western markets. "Fair trade began as an effort by people who work in communities that grew great coffee, and yet saw those communities as under privileged.  It was never to give more people direct access to western markets so they could benefit more directly from selling.  It is an alternate market system that looks at impacting more directly the farmer and labourers."  Steenburg also wishes to promote any participants to take part in All's Fair Wear-athon.  The public will get a sense for children working in sweatshops by wearing their shirt for 111hrs which is a standard work day for sweatshop employees.  

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