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Town Board talks fair trade

Meeting jam-packed with other issues

Members of the Bethlehem Fair Trade Campaign Wednesday, April 28, asked the Town Board to consider issuing a resolution of support for Bethlehem to become a Fair Trade Town.

If issued, the resolution would be the final step towards Bethlehem receiving the designation. Ballston Spa is the only other municipality in New York to attain the title.

Fair trade products come from suppliers who provide living wages and other benefits to third-world workers, farmers and artisans who are in many other cases exploited for their labors. The fair trade certification is regulated by TransFair USA, an independent nonprofit group.

Fair trade is relevant to anyone who regularly enjoys coffee, tea, chocolate, bananas, cotton clothing and any number of other products that are supported by developing countries, Fair Trade Delmar's Anna McMahon said.

Many businesses in town already offer fair trade goods. Chocolate donated by Peaceful Inspirations and brownies from Java Jazz Cafe were distributed to the board and audience.

While board members expressed general support for fair trade and its ideals, there was some question as to whether a resolution would put any burden on the town or its denizens.

"I'm concerned about what impact this will have on businesses in our community who are not selling fair trade goods," said Councilman Mark Jordan.

McMahon said there would be no restrictions or requirements placed on businesses.

"It wouldn't necessarily have any impact other than the population would become more informed about fair trade," she said.

McMahon said she would see if a note of support indented into the meeting minutes would satisfy the requirements for Bethlehem to become a Fair Trade Town.

Supervisor Sam Messina said the town would do more research and revisit the issue in the near future.

"Towns get asked to pass a lot of resolutions, and we have to make determinations like this all the time," he said.

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