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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Richer brew for growers

The farmers who grow the coffee beans that Lutherans consume by the ton—actually, more than 143 tons in 2006—are getting a raise. Equal Exchange, partner with Lutheran World Relief Coffee Project, recently increased the minimum per-pound price paid to farmers to $1.36 for conventionally grown coffee from $1.26.

That’s a 5-cent boost over the new minimum set by the global umbrella group that oversees the fair-trade system. Equal Exchange upped its payment level because of the steady inflation in costs of food, fuel and transportation reported by its trading partners. Also, greater support and incentive is needed to promote organic farming.

LWR applauded the price increases as “very positive for farmers and their communities.” Jean M. Waagbo, deputy regional director for Latin America, said the “social premium,” or money designated for farmer cooperatives to use for community projects, has made it possible for schools and health clinics to be built and for secondary-school scholarships. LWR works with coffee farmers in Bolivia, Colombia, Nicaragua and Uganda.

The new prices won’t affect the per-pound cost to the 5,000 Lutheran congregations that participate in the LWR Coffee Project, however, which was started in 1996. Since then, almost 600 tons of fair-trade coffee, tea and cocoa have been sold.


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