Congress Defends Family Agriculture Plan in Letter to Secretary Kerry
On July 1, Representatives Pocan and Honda sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, signed by 16 congressional representatives demanding that the United States government stop requiring changes to the Salvadoran government's seed buying process for its Family Agriculture Plan in order to finalize the the second round of Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) development aid. The letter (full text available here) praise's the Family Agriculture Plan for its efforts to help small farmers by giving them seeds, fertilizer and access to markets as well as its contributions to making the country less dependent on agriculture imports.
“I believe the United States should not exercise undue influence on El Salvador’s democratic political processes and policy-making, especially not in any way that jeopardizes programs like the Family Agriculture Plan, which provides essential support for small family farmers and national food security,” said Rep. Mark Pocan.
The letter has made waves in the Salvadoran press (articles in Spanish here and here), where the US Embassy was already feeling the heat following a protest and petition delivery by Salvadoran campesino and US solidarity organizations. The US press has also picked up on the issue (articles here and here).
Conditioning the MCC compact on the seed buying program joins the already lengthy list of conditions that the US government has put on El Salvador in order to finalize the deal, including forcing the passage, and subsequent reform, of a public private partnership law as well as the passage of a money laundering law.