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Green Mountain Coffee Funds Farmers’ Environmental Education

Green Mountain Coffee has joined in a partnership with Fair Trade USA and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to promote environmental education among Brazil’s coffee growers.

The Sustainable Sourcing Partnership Project aims to increase producers’ understanding of Fair Trade environmental standards and Brazilian environmental law.

The collaboration is designed to help new producers get Fair Trade certification, increasing the amount of land protected by the seal, the organizations said. The project will also help producers interested in organic coffee growing, and help them get market access.

Green Mountain Coffee and USAID both contributed $200,000 to fund the initiative. Fair Trade USA is spearheading the program and providing technical and staff expertise.

Small-holder coffee cooperatives will get technical help in three areas: increasing the amount of cultivated land under Fair Trade environmental standards, growing organic-certified coffees for export to the U.S., and developing sustainable agronomy skills.

“USAID believes that this partnership will make an important contribution towards environmental conservation and effective natural resources management by working closely with small coffee producers so that they may benefit from economic opportunities made available by utilizing sound environmental practices,” said Denny Robertson, USAID Mission Director to Brazil.

FairTrade and USAID said the initiative will build on their previous programs enabling farmers to diversify their client bases with high-volume sales to sustainability-oriented customers such as Green Mountain Coffee, which converted two of its most popular coffees to Fair Trade Certified in 2010.

Coffee’s intense price volatility contributes to a challenging business climate in which farmers often increase yields without a focus on quality or sustainability, leading to extensive deforestation, the organizations said. Brazil is the industry’s single biggest producer by volume.

“We are pleased to participate in this comprehensive program that is focused on helping coffee farming families improve their livelihoods and the biodiversity of their farms. We are confident that this partnership will be a win for consumers and a win for Fair Trade coffee farming families in Brazil,” said Lindsey Bolger, senior director of coffee sourcing and relationships for Green Mountain’s specialty coffee business unit.

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