Porfirio supports his family in Nicaragua by growing beans to eat and sell. He spends most of his day tending to his beans as well as working with his wife to maintain their house and raise all five of their children. If a new “free trade” agreement called CAFTA passes, Porfirio fears that he will not be able to get a decent price for his beans. The cheapest beans at the market in Managua are imported from the US where the average farmer receives $21,000 a year in subsidies from the government. It is impossible for Porfirio’s beans to compete against corporate agribusiness. After producing beans and feeding his family his entire life, Porfirio has been told that the best way for him to compete in the free market (under CAFTA) is to produce sesame, an export crop. His success will be dependent on the whims of the international market. When international sesame prices fall, Porfirio will not be able to sell his sesame. He will have no money to buy food for his family, and his family can’t survive eating sesame. He may have to sell his land and become one more unemployed person desperately looking for work in the cities or migrating to a wealthy country. (Witness for Peace)
As a necessary element to human survival, food is a human right. Small, local family farms are the bedrock of traditional rural communities and global food security- the ability of countries to produce the food they need to survive. Yet the global food supply is increasingly falling under the control of giant multinational corporations. Large agribusinesses have rewritten the rules of the global agricultural economy, using “free trade” agreements to turn food into a commodity for profit rather than a human right. The global corporatization of agriculture has had disastrous effects on farmers, food security, and the environment.