WASHINGTON, April 22, 2014 – Large-scale agriculture deals funded by U.S. companies in Paraguay, Guatemala, and Colombia are undermining local food security and displacing small-holder farmers, according to a report released today by the worldwide development organization Oxfam America.
The organization said the report, “Smallholders at Risk,” found that companies and investors including Cargill, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, the Rohatyn Group, Riverstone Holdings, and Carlyle Group, have financed large scale land acquisitions in Latin America to grow mono-crops of soy, oil palm and corn that have pushed out smaller, local farmers.
The report recommended the U.S. government and other participants in the U.N. Committee on World Food Security negotiations in Rome next month to set a global “gold standard” to guide agricultural investment by public and private actors in order to foster sustainable development.
“More and better investment in agriculture is essential to right the wrong of nearly one billion people suffering from hunger,” said Stephanie Burgos, policy advisor for Oxfam and lead author of the report. “But large, loosely regulated deals can end up doing more harm than good without clear rules of the road. Without greater care for how agricultural investments are implemented, poor farmers end up bearing the risk and shouldering the costs rather than reaping the benefits.”
Oxfam said it investigated three deals involving U.S. companies in regions of Paraguay, Guatemala, and Colombia and found the deals had displaced small farm communities and led to further concentration of land in the hands of larger operations, while creating more informal and seasonal jobs. Large-scale monoculture expansion, resulting from these deals, is competing for land with basic food production and undermining access to nutritious food in local markets, according to Oxfam.