Lib Dem MEP supports Fairtrade group in campaign to help sugar farmers after EU rule change

As Co-Ordinator of Lib Dem Fairtrade Future (LDFF) I’m proud to announce that we’ve launched a new campaign, Help Sugar Farmers, in support of a major effort from the Fairtrade Foundation (the governing body of Fairtrade in the UK) to get a fair deal for sugar farmers in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries following a European Union rule-change which-unless mitigation is provided-will likely lead to around 200,000 people being pushed into poverty.

I’m a proud pro-European but we have to be up-front when the EU makes decisions which adversely affect people both within the EU and-as in this case-beyond.

As noted by the Fairtrade Foundation, the EU has decided to do away with a cap on the amount of sugar grown in Europe which has previously helped to protect the livelihoods of sugar farmers (including around 60,000 who are part of the Fairtrade initiative) by enabling them good access to European markets.

LDFF supports the Fairtrade Foundation in calling for the EU to ‘lead a response which brings together businesses, other EU member states, governments in affected Countries, small farmers and civil society’ and to ‘provide new funding from the EU’s own development budget.’

As confirmed in a tweet to LDFF, the Lib Dems’ fantastic MEP, Catherine Bearder, is taking up the matter and has, indeed, tabled a question on this to the European Commission.

Catherine is, as with a host of other issues, showing the difference even just one Lib Dem MEP can make in fighting to help some of the poorest people in our World (far more than 20+ UKIP MEPs have done I might add.)

We thank Catherine for her leadership and await with interest the response to her question.

I’m exceptionally proud that with Catherine and, indeed, LDFF’s fantastic Patrons Tim Farron MP and Greg Mulholland MP, we have Parliamentarians totally committed to the Fairtrade cause.

I’m also proud that, in LDFF, we have the first grassroots Fairtrade movement in any major British political party.

I passionately believe that in supporting Fairtrade we show in action how, as it says in the pre-amble to our Constitution, we Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a (World) in which ‘no one shall be enslaved by poverty.’

If you’d like to support the calls for the EU to take action, please tweet us via @LDFairtrade using the hashtag #HelpSugarFarmers.

* Mathew Hulbert is Vice Chair of Bosworth Constituency Lib Dems and a former Councillor.

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7 Comments

  • Alex Macfie 9th Apr '15 - 11:16pm

    “I’m a proud pro-European but we have to be up-front when the EU makes decisions which adversely affect people both within the EU and-as in this case-beyond.

    WTF?!? This should go without saying. Replace “Europe” and “European” with “British” or “UK” and you should see how ridiculous this sounds. WHY should anyone think that being “a proud pro-European” means you should be uncritically supportive of whatever any European institution supports or does? In the same way as supporting the continuing existence of the UK does NOT mean you uncritically support whatever the government of the day does, so one should NOT expect pro-Europeans to hold off from criticising specific laws or actions proposed/enacted by EU institutions.
    There are political, ideological differences on how people think the EU should look, in the exact same way as there are for UK domestic politics. That is just a fact. EU politics isn’t just about being pro/anti EU: being critical of specific EU laws you don’t like is just a matter of making the politicians accountable, in the same way as it would be over UK laws we don;t like. Indeed that is why we HAVE a Europan Parliament, and one reason we did so badly in the European Parliamentary election last year is that we did NOT specify what

  • Alex Macfie 9th Apr '15 - 11:22pm

    … what we would do, AS LIBERALS, to make the EU work in the way we would want. In other words, we did not give anyone a reason to vote for a Lib Dem MEP; instead we fought on Farage’s terms, agreeing with the fallacy that the only two possibly positions on the EU are uncrticial support for everything it does, or withdrawal. And the quote above simply reinforces the fallacious idea that the default “pro-EU” position should be to support without criticism whatever any EU institution does. We need to get past this idea and openly challenge it. We are fighting an election now on different visions on what the UK should look like. In the same way, open debate on different EU policy slants needs to be seen as the norm, and we should be leading the way. Unfortunately we have failed to do so.

  • Jane Ann Liston 10th Apr '15 - 1:12am

    It’s a dilemma; does one buy Third World sugar, and so help producers in those countries, or buy European sugar and save food miles, therefore helping the planet.

  • Support Fairtrade – because what farmers in poor countries really need is a rich western NGO turning up one day to explain that if they don’t hand over a hefty proportion of their turnover, Fairtrade will tell consumers in the west not to buy from those farmers.

  • I don’t know the particular situation well enough to comment, but the posting doesn’t hold the decision up to be a bad thing in of itself. Artificially limiting supply for a period of time does indeed create jobs in the developing world, but it also risks structurally focusing the economy on something which probably won’t last forever. At some point the EU or another supplier will inevitably enter that market and if it only exists because of a trade restriction all of those people are going to lose their jobs.

    Sugar no doubt is a very specific example and as Catherine says it’s about helping farmers adapt. I would certainly be very wary of any NGO pushing for jobs growth in a sector which could so easily go away leaving everyone stranded.

  • A friend of mine, whose Dad came from Jamaica, once discussed with me the history of the sugar trade whilst walking past The Tate Gallery, that great unintentional monument to slavery.

    It transpired that we both shared the view that if sugar production in The Caribbean ceased tomorrow the world might be a better place.

    There was once a West Country tradition of a boycotting sugar or any product of the slave trade.
    In the 21st Century with the joint costs of dental decay and obesity, we have good reason to boycott sugar again.

    So should we be helping sugar farmers? Or should we be helping sugar farmers to switch to doing something else ?

    I would welcome Matthew’s views on perhaps getting replacememt investment for harnessing the sun in the Caribbean for generating electricity rather than growing a crop which is not needed.

  • “As noted by the Fairtrade Foundation, the EU has decided to do away with a cap on the amount of sugar grown in Europe which has previously helped to protect the livelihoods of sugar farmers”
    So you would sooner help people outside of Europe than within Europe?

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