In 1996, the export of coffee beans brought almost US$2 billion to the people of Colombia and US$2.4 billion to the people of Brazil. In all, coffee growing is vital to the economies of more than 70 countries.

In Canada today, coffee consumers are much more knowledgeable than in years past. They demand a wider and finer range of coffees. Members of the Coffee Association of Canada have taken the lead in creating partnerships with coffee grower in numerous countries around the world to meet that demand.

Our members - roasters, retailers and suppliers to the coffee industry - work directly with growers to improve agricultural practices and produce more and better coffee beans. The results are often greater financial returns for the farmers and increased compensation for their workers. Both are key catalysts in lasting social and economic change.

There is, however, a limit to how much impact members of the coffee industry can have. Most long term change must be inspired by government initiatives such as export development and international trade agreements.

Until that happens, and the need for support has been removed, our members will stay actively involved in the many innovative programs that make a positive and significant difference.

Members will continue to forge partnerships with coffee growers, looking for ways to improve conditions for everyone involved in growing and harvesting beans.

Members will continue to travel regularly to the coffee growing countries from which they import their beans - to see with their own eyes how the systems work.

Coffee growers and government representatives from producing countries will continue to come to Canada for meetings organized by the Coffee Association and its members. The knowledge exchanged through these forums can lead to more programs that ensure equitable compensation and healthy agricultural and business practices.

The ongoing practices of Coffee Association of Canada members include:
- buying certified organic coffee
- developing partnerships with co-op organizations that are committed to fair compensation for growers and workers
- developing health care and education programs for coffee workers, their families and their communities
- prepaying for coffee crops during the growing season to finance the harvest and handling of the beans after harvest
- assisting farmers to purchase the equipment to help them increase yields

The members of the Coffee Association of Canada have a commitment to the people who grow the coffee beans that we buy. We know, however, from our collective experience, that every situation is unique. There is no one solution that will improve the lives of the tens of thousands of growers in all 70 coffee producing countries.

This information package contains several example of the numerous programs in place right now in coffee growing countries all over the world. Though varied and diverse, these programs all share one common trait - they all make a real and substantial difference to the people involved.
Sandy McAlpine
President, Coffee Association of Canada

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