US coffee roaster Green Mountain and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have signed an agreement that creates an alliance to assist coffee producers around the world in addressing the economic, social and environmental impacts of the global coffee crisis.

The Coffee Alliance will focus on developing sustainable solutions that will improve the quality of coffee and the quality of life in coffee growing communities. The memo of understanding, signed yesterday [Monday], is a mechanism by which Green Mountain Coffee Roasters may work with USAID in Washington and in missions around the world.

The current coffee crisis has been caused by an oversupply of low quality coffee that has driven the world commodity price for coffee to the lowest levels in more than 30 years. According to Oxfam America, when inflation is taken into account, coffee farmers are receiving less for their produce today than their ancestors received 100 years ago. With market prices below the costs of production, USAID estimates that in Central America alone, at least 600,000 coffee farmers have been forced to seek other employment, often in urban centres or in the United States.