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U.S. Funds Program Supporting Humane Agriculture and Wildlife Protection in Central American FTA Partners

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador – U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick today announced that the U.S. government, through its Agency for International Development (USAID), will make a $500,000 contribution to the CAFTA Alliance Fund of the Humane Society of the United States. These funds will support environmentally sustainable and humane agriculture as well as the protection of wildlife and habitat in Central American countries currently negotiating a U.S.-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). The announcement took place at Shuchil, a small Salvadoran company that produces organic soaps, including a line of natural shampoos and soaps for pets.

"The United States is working to link aid with trade, and to partner with private groups that can promote sustainable development in the CAFTA region," said Zoellick. "There is a growing market in the United States for organic and environmentally-friendly products. In this project, USAID will join with the Humane Society to assist small producers in our Central American FTA partners who want to sell organic products to high-value specialty markets in the United States and elsewhere."

Shuchil is operated out of the home of Ms. Matilde Carillo de Palomo in San Salvador. The company produces organic soaps and shampoos, many of which are made from traditional Mayan formulas and ingredients. Most of the company’s employees are women from rural areas outside of San Salvador. Shuchil is seeking to expand its exports of a line of natural pet products, such as shampoos and soaps for pets. The Humane Society will provide technical assistance to Shuchil in having its products certified and sold under the "Certified Humane" label in the United States and Europe.

"We appreciate the leadership and creativity of the Humane Society in working to support sustainable trade with Central America. This grant shows that the U.S. government, environmental groups and the private sector can work together to find winwin solutions that help everyone benefit from the CAFTA," said Zoellick.

Zoellick is visiting Central America October 1-3, to discuss the ongoing U.S.-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) negotiations with the Presidents of Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua; Central American trade ministers; legislators; and, members of the private sector and civil society.

BACKGROUND

The $500,000 contribution from the U.S. Agency for International Development will help support humane slaughter of animals, in addition to improving customs regulations to control illicit trade in animals. A sustainable agriculture component of the program will support the export of organic products such as Shuchil’s shampoos and soaps, the export of organic cacao, and the promotion of high quality organic coffee. The Humane Society, working with its partners in the CAFTA Alliance Fund, will also provide funds for this effort.

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is a member of the Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee, which advises the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on international trade and environmental issues. HSUS was one of the first non-governmental organizations to become a resource partner in capacity building efforts supporting the CAFTA negotiations.

The CAFTA Alliance is a group of non-government and private sector groups dedicated to sustainable development in Central America. Led by the Humane Society of the United States, it also includes Counterpart International, Earth Council Costa Rica, Earth Voice and resource partners such as Stewart and Stewart of Washington, DC, Caribbean Conservation Corporation of Costa Rica, Humane Farm Animal Care of Herndon, Virginia, ARCAS (Asociación de Rescate y Conservación de Vida Silvestre) in Guatemala, AMARAS of Honduras, SalvaNatura of El Salvador, FAZOONIC (Fundacion Amigos del Zoolologic Nicaraguense) of Nicaragua, ForesTrade of Vermont and Guatemala and Costa Rican Cocoa, San Jose, Costa Rica.