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Farmers in the US speak out

By Chris Hufstader

Meanwhile, Oxfam was also supporting US farming groups, who stood in solidarity with small-scale farmers in Central America.

Groups like the National Family Farm Coalition, the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, and Rural Coalition, carried out direct advocacy of their own, telling their elected officials that trade agreements should protect food sovereignty, not threaten it. Just as the Central Americans wanted to avoid the US flooding their surplus commodities into their market, small-scale American farmers wanted their government to pursue policies that supported them, not the huge agriculture corporations that would benefit from DR-CAFTA.

"This agreement is absolutely horrible for us livestock producers," said Rhonda Perry, a farmer and head of Oxfam partner, Missouri Rural Crisis Center. "It's also not beneficial for farmers in the DR-CAFTA countries. All these promises about export markets, clearly, that's not what happens. There are a few multinational corporations that have no allegiance that make out like bandits. The rest of us are stuck picking up the pieces."

Oxfam America created opportunities for Central and North American farmers to meet, learn from each other, and work together to oppose unfair trade. The National Family Farm Coalition worked with members of Iniciativa CID in Washington, DC to help them bring their concerns directly to members of Congress and share perspectives, farmer to farmer.

"This was really a united front even though people were coming at it from different angles. It was a chance to develop shared understanding about CAFTA's negative impacts on farmer livelihoods in both the US and Central America," said Jaeda Harmon, a US Regional Office Program Officer at Oxfam America