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QSKILLS5, UNIT 5 LISTENING 1 - COFFEE TRADE

Deborah Amos: Be honest: When you drop by your local coffeehouse ...

Barista: Hi, how are you?

Amos: ... do you ever think about the farmers who grew that coffee, thousands of miles away?

Customer: I need two, let's see, two vente mocha frappuccinos with whipped cream.

Amos: When you pay the bill ...

Barista: Eight twenty-nine.

Amos: ... do you ever wonder, How much of this money will the coffee farmers and their families actually get?

Barista: What can I get for you?

Amos: An international network of activists wants you to start thinking about it, because they say they've figured out a simple way that you can affect the global economy and transform the lives of farmers: Look for coffee with the special label marked “Fair Trade”.

With Part 3 in our special report, here's American RadioWorks correspondent Daniel Zwerdling.

Daniel Zwerdlin: Let's go right to coffee country. Let's head to the mountains of Guatemala. They grow some of the best coffee you can drink. It's late afternoon, the sun's already sinking behind a peak, and farmers are shuffling back down the slopes after a whole day picking beans. [horse whinnies] Some lead pack horses. They're mangy animals; you can count every single rib. The farmers tie the reins to trees next to the village warehouse, and they unload their burlap sacks. A lot of farmers can't afford a horse. One man's staggering down the dirt path. He's lugging more than 50 pounds of coffee on his own back. My interpreter translates.

[Spanish)

Interpreter: Sometimes, we do 100 pounds or more. Uh, you come here sweating, really sweating.

Zwerdling: You don't have to be an economist to see that growing coffee here doesn't buy much of a life. Picture the farmers' homes on the hillsides. They're shacks. The floors are bare dirt. There's no running water or electricity. The outside walls are thin wooden planks—and it gets cold here up in the mountains. The world's coffee prices go up and down, depending partly on supply and demand and speculation by big investors. But these farmers are stuck in poverty. They sell their beans to local businessmen whom they derisively call "coyotes," and the coyotes pay them less than 50 cents per pound. At that price, the farmers can barely make a few hundred dollars a year.

[Spanish]

Interpreter: I mean, to produce coffee, it's, it's expensive. It's a lot of work, and sometimes we can't even cover our costs.

Zwerdling: Can I ask all of you something? Do you know how much somebody like me pays for your coffee when I go to my local coffee shop in Washington, D.C. ? [Spanish] Interpreter: No, we don't know.

Zwerdling: So I tell them that foreign stores typically sell Guatemalan coffee for at least 9, per pound—compared to the 50 cents they get for growing it—and the farmers just stand there, looking puzzled. Then one of them pulls a calculator out of his pocket that's so dirty and scratched, you can hardly see through the screen, and the interpreter helps him convert dollars into local quetzales. The farmers gasp when they hear the price.

Interpreter: They're just amazed at how much, how much's a consumer pays for it, and they keep just saying, "Six thousand, six hundred-something-something quetzales!—it's like they're repeating it over and over again. It's an enormous difference from what they actually get. It's a huge amount of money.

Zwerdling: These farmers are the poorest and most powerless part of the global coffee trade. And it's a massive industry; The world trades more coffee than any commodity except petroleum (and illegal drugs). But the farmers say they don't know what happens to their beans once they sell them to the coyote. They don't realize that he sells them to a processor; then the processor might sell them to an exporter. The exporter ships the beans to an importer in another country, like the United States. The importer sells them to a roaster. The roaster sells them to a coffee shop, which sells the coffee to you, and everybody makes a healthy profit along the way—except the small farmers who grow it. [horse hooves/whinnies] Now activists have devised a cure that they call the "Fair Trade system”. They say it can help farmers make more money than ever before and flex some power over their lives.

[Truck sounds] On a recent morning, we joined one of the system's organizers, a man named Guillermo Denaux. He's heading to a meeting with some Fair Trade farmers to see how things are going. And that means that his four-wheel-drive car is straining to climb an insane path next to a cliff, way up in Guatemala's mountains.

Guillermo Denaux: It's the end of the world. There is no more village further away. It's impossible.

Zwerdling: A group of European activists founded Fair Trade in the late 1980s. The program spread to the United States a few years ago. And here's how it works: First, they've signed up roughly 300 groups of coffee farmers from Indonesia to Peru. They'll only sign up small, family farmers who market their coffee together in community co-ops—no corporate plantations allowed. Second, they've figured out how much money a typical farmer needs to support a family of five: decent food, clothes, kids in school, health care. And then the system basically guarantees that the farmers can sell their coffee for enough money per pound to achieve that. How? Well, the companies that sell Fair Trade coffee to you at your local cafe buy it almost directly from the farmers who grow it. Denaux says the network cuts out the middlemen who traditionally siphon off farmers' profits.

Denaux: Their whole lives, they depended on the, on the intermediaries. So once you can be, become independent of those intermediaries, for them is very important.

Zwerdling : Still, the Fair Trade network can't raise all the money that farmers need just by cutting out middlemen. Consumers have to help, too. You pay at least 10 percent extra for Fair Trade brands.


Deborah Amos: Be honest: When you drop by your local coffeehouse ...

Barista: Hi, how are you?

Amos: ... do you ever think about the farmers who grew that coffee, thousands of miles away?

Customer: I need two, let's see, two vente mocha frappuccinos with whipped cream.

Amos: When you pay the bill ...

Barista: Eight twenty-nine.

Amos: ... do you ever wonder, How much of this money will the coffee farmers and their families actually get?

Barista: What can I get for you?

Amos: An international network of activists wants you to start thinking about it, because they say they've figured out a simple way that you can affect the global economy and transform the lives of farmers: Look for coffee with the special label marked “Fair Trade”.

With Part 3 in our special report, here's American RadioWorks correspondent Daniel Zwerdling.

Daniel Zwerdlin: Let's go right to coffee country. Let's head to the mountains of Guatemala. They grow some of the best coffee you can drink. It's late afternoon, the sun's already sinking behind a peak, and farmers are shuffling back down the slopes after a whole day picking beans. [horse whinnies] Some lead pack horses. They're mangy animals; you can count every single rib. The farmers tie the reins to trees next to the village warehouse, and they unload their burlap sacks. A lot of farmers can't afford a horse. One man's staggering down the dirt path. He's lugging more than 50 pounds of coffee on his own back. My interpreter translates.

[Spanish)

Interpreter: Sometimes, we do 100 pounds or more. Uh, you come here sweating, really sweating.

Zwerdling: You don't have to be an economist to see that growing coffee here doesn't buy much of a life. Picture the farmers' homes on the hillsides. They're shacks. The floors are bare dirt. There's no running water or electricity. The outside walls are thin wooden planks—and it gets cold here up in the mountains. The world's coffee prices go up and down, depending partly on supply and demand and speculation by big investors. But these farmers are stuck in poverty. They sell their beans to local businessmen whom they derisively call "coyotes," and the coyotes pay them less than 50 cents per pound. At that price, the farmers can barely make a few hundred dollars a year.

[Spanish]

Interpreter: I mean, to produce coffee, it's, it's expensive. It's a lot of work, and sometimes we can't even cover our costs.

Zwerdling: Can I ask all of you something? Do you know how much somebody like me pays for your coffee when I go to my local coffee shop in Washington, D.C. ?

[Spanish]

Interpreter: No, we don't know.

Zwerdling: So I tell them that foreign stores typically sell Guatemalan coffee for at least 9, per pound—compared to the 50 cents they get for growing it—and the farmers just stand there, looking puzzled. Then one of them pulls a calculator out of his pocket that's so dirty and scratched, you can hardly see through the screen, and the interpreter helps him convert dollars into local quetzales. The farmers gasp when they hear the price.

Interpreter: They're just amazed at how much, how much's a consumer pays for it, and they keep just saying, "Six thousand, six hundred-something-something quetzales!—it's like they're repeating it over and over again. It's an enormous difference from what they actually get. It's a huge amount of money.

Zwerdling: These farmers are the poorest and most powerless part of the global coffee trade. And it's a massive industry; The world trades more coffee than any commodity except petroleum (and illegal drugs). But the farmers say they don't know what happens to their beans once they sell them to the coyote. They don't realize that he sells them to a processor; then the processor might sell them to an exporter. The exporter ships the beans to an importer in another country, like the United States. The importer sells them to a roaster. The roaster sells them to a coffee shop, which sells the coffee to you, and everybody makes a healthy profit along the way—except the small farmers who grow it. [horse hooves/whinnies] Now activists have devised a cure that they call the "Fair Trade system”. They say it can help farmers make more money than ever before and flex some power over their lives.

[Truck sounds] On a recent morning, we joined one of the system's organizers, a man named Guillermo Denaux. He's heading to a meeting with some Fair Trade farmers to see how things are going. And that means that his four-wheel-drive car is straining to climb an insane path next to a cliff, way up in Guatemala's mountains.

Guillermo Denaux: It's the end of the world. There is no more village further away. It's impossible.

Zwerdling: A group of European activists founded Fair Trade in the late 1980s. The program spread to the United States a few years ago. And here's how it works: First, they've signed up roughly 300 groups of coffee farmers from Indonesia to Peru. They'll only sign up small, family farmers who market their coffee together in community co-ops—no corporate plantations allowed. Second, they've figured out how much money a typical farmer needs to support a family of five: decent food, clothes, kids in school, health care. And then the system basically guarantees that the farmers can sell their coffee for enough money per pound to achieve that. How? Well, the companies that sell Fair Trade coffee to you at your local cafe buy it almost directly from the farmers who grow it. Denaux says the network cuts out the middlemen who traditionally siphon off farmers' profits.

Denaux: Their whole lives, they depended on the, on the intermediaries. So once you can be, become independent of those intermediaries, for them is very important.

Zwerdling : Still, the Fair Trade network can't raise all the money that farmers need just by cutting out middlemen. Consumers have to help, too. You pay at least 10 percent extra for Fair Trade brands.