With the fairness project, initiated in 2010, Bio Suisse is supporting respectful trade and the satisfaction of the trading partners along the whole value chain. Organic farmers, processors of organic food and traders exchange in meetings about their concerns regarding fairness and trade. The basic requirements regarding the fair relationships are included in the Bio Suisse standard.
With this project, Bio Suisse is a pioneer of a fairness approach that is not based on inspection and certification, but on a comprehensive long-term dialog and care of good relationship among the partners along the whole value chain. This differs from the classical fair-trade approach that defines minimum prices and premium.
The code of conduct was developed based on several discussion events regarding fairness principles for the Swiss value chain. The participants came from farming, processing and retail, as well from consumer protection sectors. The code of conduct lays down the fairness guidelines for the Swiss market. For international trade, a slightly different code of conduct was developed.
As part of the fairness strategy, the stakeholder round table discussions have been taking place since 2011 in the milk and cereal markets. In discussion rounds, it was suggested to show good practice examples in which fair trade relationships become visible. Similar discussion rounds are also established in the fruit, vegetable and egg markets, and an interest created in the meat market. Those round tables have become an appreciated instrument with positive feedback from the stakeholders.
Ombudsman: Starting from April 2014, it is possible for every farmer to ask for support and recommendations from the especially assigned, neutral ombudsman for fair trade relations. Market participants can also file a formal complaint. The ombudsman researches the cases from all perspectives, and can make a recommendation or hold a mediation. He doesn’t have decision power, but creates transparency and publicity. The recommendations contribute that the principles of the code of conduct are made visible with concrete examples. In future, the ombudsman could treat international cases as well.
Fairness survey: The results of the first fairness survey (in cooperation with the University of Kassel, Germany) show that majority of farmers (64%) and traders (65%) with the bud label are generally satisfied with their trade relations. However, one out of five farmers and one out of four processors/traders are not satisfied with the trade relations. The survey also showed that the code of conduct represents very well the expectations of the market actors of what they feel is fair. The survey is repeated every 3-4 years.
Liivimaa Lihaveis, an Estonian NGO, connects around 50 farmers who have great love and respect for nature. Our common desire is to grow happy cattle in their inherent environment - strolling around the great grasslands. The Baltic area does not have high mountains nor deep lakes, but we do have grasslands more diverse than any rainforests, containing more than 70 species per square meter. It is therefore our task to rightfully sustain and cherish these lands. Relying on this purpose, Liivimaa Lihaveis has created a governmentally certified quality scheme - ensuring welfare of the animals and sustaining the biodiversity on our diverse grasslands. Every single member is certified organic producer.
The quality scheme promotes the grazing of Angus, Hereford, and Simmental breed cattle in organic-certified farms. Throughout the grazing period, animals under the scheme must be on pastured on grassland, and during winter the cattle must have the freedom to move freely. In the summer period, cattle are grazed on land of which 50% is permanent grassland. In the winter period, animals must be provided a dry and clean place to sleep, water and enough hay and silo for every separate age group. Feeding any grain to the cattle is disallowed.
Liivimaa Lihaveis buys less animals but with the highest price of the market. Meat is sold on the basis of a true story, placing an emphasis on how animals live, what they eat, how good it is for the environment and human health. The focus on the animal diet which consists of very diversified grassland gives special and intensive taste to the meat and keeps the diversification on the grasslands.
Eosta (Europe’s leading specialist in organic fruits and vegetables, based in the Netherlands) developed the Nature & More system as an innovative approach to connect consumers with (organic) growers, their personal stories and sustainability efforts. Products that are part of the Nature & More Trace & Tell System bear a three-digit code which, when entered on the Nature & More website, provides detailed information on the operations and efforts of the farmer, including photos and video. Through our integrated sustainability model, the Sustainability Flower, we show the impact of the production in 6 categories: Climate, Water, Soil, Biodiversity, Health and Social Coherence. In many cases, we also calculated the value of these impacts in terms of money, so-called True Cost Accounting. In this way we allow consumers to compare the impacts of organic food with non-organic food and make responsible choices. The result is clear: organic is not too expensive, but conventional is too cheap!
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