24 industry groups signed a letter to the president-elect
By Diego Flammini
Two dozen ag industry groups and government bodies are asking President-elect Biden (the inauguration ceremony takes/took place at noon on Wednesday) to make improving ag relations with Cuba a top priority for his administration.
The United States Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC), a 24-member organization who believes bettering ag trade between the two countries “is the foundation for building successful and enduring relations…” provided the new administration with recommendations on how to improve this bilateral relationship.
The USACC, who’s members include the National Corn Growers Association, American Soybean Association, National Association of Wheat Growers as well as the Minnesota and Virginia departments of agriculture, outlined its proposal in a Jan. 14 letter to the incoming administration.
The first item on the USACC’s list is lifting the embargo with Cuba.
The embargo has been in place since 1960 but has been ineffective, the organization says.
“Our sanctions hurt the Cuban people, limit American influence in Cuba, and antagonize friends and allies, while doing nothing to advance any U.S. interest,” the group wrote in its letter.
Another step towards improving U.S. ag relations with Cuba would be a formalized trade agreement.
Both countries reopened their respective embassies in 2015, but because of the embargo, no trade deal can be negotiated.
The Biden administration needs to engage with Cuba to help U.S. exporters compete with other countries, the USACC says.
“We urge you to support legislation to put U.S. exporters on equal footing with our competitors by allowing us to negotiate trade terms including private financial credit,” the letter said.
Cuba imports about $2 billion of ag goods per year, but the U.S. doesn’t account for a large percentage of that figure.
Between 2012 and 2014, the U.S. exported an average of about $365 million of ag products to Cuba, a USDA report says.
Between 2001 and 2014, America sent the most farm products to Cuba in 2008. That year, Cuba imported $685 million of American agricultural goods.
Farms.com has contacted members of the USACC for comment on the need to improve ag trade relations with Cuba.