The fall in coffee prices has been caused by a 15% oversupply in coffee production. It is a market response to excessive production, rather than evidence of corporate wickedness. More efficient techniques and improved technology may cause prices to fall further. Those who advocate prop-up pricing schemes such as ‘fair trade’ may have the best of intentions, but they will probably encourage the less efficient producers to keep at it, maintaining the over-supply. What farmers should do is to diversify into other products. Instead of a token gesture such as paying a few pence extra for a cup of coffee, we should be opening our markets to their goods, and cease selling subsidized crops in competition with theirs on world markets.

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