Senate Presents Law to Facilitate Agricultural Exports to Cuba

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Havana, May 15 (ACN) Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colorado) and John Boozman (R-Arkansas) introduced the Agricultural Export Expansion Act (S.1447), legislation that could make it easier for U.S. farmers to sell their products to Cuba by removing restrictions on private financing for that sector’s exports to the Island.

These restrictions are arbitrary and have no other purpose than to harm our farmers and the Cuban people, said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a group that unveiled the bipartisan initiative, who added that it was time to move away from this bad policy because our farmers deserve to be able to compete on equal terms” for participation in the Cuban market, because he said: “We know that there is demand for quality products in the United States, and we must allow producers to satisfy that demand.

Today, the Juventud Rebelde newspaper publishes that U.S. producers have been able to export to the Island since the year 2000, because during the administration of William Clinton the Law of Reform to Commercial Sanctions and Exports Expansion was introduced, which favors one-way trade, but maintained the veto on Cuban exports and, in addition, restrictions on financing were maintained, so there is no possibility of credits to Cuba for purchases, which seriously hinders the export potential of U.S. producers.

We have heard loud and clear that U.S. farmers and ranchers want the opportunity to compete and sell their products all over the world, including in the Cuban market. Despite our progress on the 2018 Farm Bill, existing trade restrictions with Cuba continue to be imposed, and farmers and ranchers are at a disadvantage, Senator Bennet said.

This common sense bill would open up new market opportunities for Colorado farmers and ranchers, who have a lot to gain by competing in the Cuban market,” the Democratic lawmaker added.

The Republican senator said, “Arkansas farmers need new markets and a solution is sitting less than a hundred miles from our coasts. Cuba imports 80 percent of its food, but Americans are at a disadvantage because private funding is not allowed. Our bill removes this barrier, which allows our farmers to compete.
It’s a small step, but one that can generate big dividends for U.S. farmers and the Cuban people, Boozman said. Engage Cuba, a coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the blockade on travel and trade with Cuba, says farmers seeking to export to Cuba had some success in December 2018 with a provision in the 2018 Farm Bill that allows U.S. farmers to use federal market promotion dollars for agricultural exports to Cuba.

The provision had been requested in September 2017 by a bipartisan group of some 60 agricultural, business and elected officials associations from 17 U.S. states, who then sent a letter to the leaders of the Agriculture Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate calling for its introduction into the law.

Now, other legislators in the House of Representatives are also introducing complementary bills to help U.S. farmers trade with Cuba, such as the Cuban Agricultural Exports Act, introduced in March by Rick Crawford (Republican of Arkansas) and Cheri Bustos (Democrat of Illinois).

(Taken from ACN in Spanish)

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