Linda Smithers-2014 Rainforest Alliance Change Agent Award Recipient

Linda 2 copyLinda Smithers was recently awarded the 2014 Rainforest Alliance Change Agent Award. This award was presented to her at the Rainforest Alliance Sustainable Coffee Breakfast on April 25, 2014. The Rainforest Alliance Change Agent Award, presented at the annual Rainforest Alliance Breakfast at SCAA April 25th, 2014. This award honors sustainability champions that strive to make vast differences within the industry.

Smithers received this award in acknowledgement for her dedication to the industry, innovative efforts to promote producer best practices, her extensive leadership efforts in the Rainforest Alliance Cupping Events, and her dedication to coffee quality improvements.

“We are thrilled to honor Linda for her superior commitment to promoting sustainability in the coffee industry over the past decade,” said Alex Morgan, the Senior Manager of Sustainable Agriculture at the Rainforest Alliance.

Daterra Achieves Climate-Smart Verification
Smithers, past president of SCAA is currently the head of the North American Marketing department for Daterra Coffee, a Brazilian coffee farm that achieved RA Certification in 2003 and was the country’s first farm to meet comprehensive social, environmental, and economic standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network.

The Rainforest Alliance works to conserve biodiversity and improve livelihoods of individuals with the implementation of their sustainability standards. These standards are designed to stimulate ecological, social, and economic benefits. Rainforest Alliance certification validates that all standards have been met, sustainability efforts are being achieved, and the parties involved are benefitting.

Daterra was also the second coffee farm in the world to achieve Rainforest Alliance climate-smart verification. The company gained this verification by meeting inclusive standards that help farms reduce emissions, increase carbon storage, and adapt to changes in the local climate. Climate-smart verification is achieved when farmers complete the requirement of conserving already existing forest on their farms, while also planting additional trees. Farms also adopt soil conservation methods that sequester carbon by utilizing organic matter as compost and burying fertilizer to help reduce emissions. By adopting such practices, coffee farms are preparing for the challenges that are caused by climate changes that are already evident throughout the world.

Smithers and the Cupping for Quality Program
Smithers has played a key role in various cupping events over the past decade, often serving as the lead-cupper herself. In 2003, Smithers helped to launch the Rainforest Alliance Cupping for Quality Program. This program is essential to establish great quality coffee uniformly throughout the world. The Cupping for Quality program was developed in an effort to link sustainable farming practices with coffee quality. It was also created to recognize farmers for their hard work and dedication in adopting rigorous sustainability standards on their farms.

“Through Smithers’ efforts, our cupping for quality program has now developed into an invaluable tool for farmers, helping them improve crop quality, while championing the rigorous social, environment, and economic standards for Rainforest Alliance certification,” said Morgan.

The Cupping for Quality program is also useful to various farmers and their farms. This program can help to identify different areas that may need some improvement. This has translated to improvements in coffee crop quality, and of course, the cupping scores of the coffee has improved year after year because of this program. Farmers who adopt the practices for Rainforest Alliance certification are going above and beyond what is expected. They are greatly improving the quality of their beans, while simultaneously conserving natural resources, protecting wildlife habitat, and also supporting their local communities.

“Practices that are implemented on the farm level must translate to quality in the cup. These cuppings are not a contest, but rather a way to provide farmers with invaluable feedback on the quality of their beans, while also linking sustainable farming practices to quality beans,” said Smithers in regards to the Rainforest Alliance 2014 cupping results.

Smithers has done great work in the sustainability efforts of Daterra Coffee, which reflects on the entire industry. She has aided the Daterra Coffee with the tools necessary to reach sustainable success. She has worked long and hard to not only better the Daterra Coffee Company, but also the industry as a whole. A big congratulations to Linda Smithers, the most recent recipient of the 2014 Rainforest Alliance Change Agent Award. You deserve it!

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