Senators Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Maria Cantwell, R-Wash., say relaxing restrictions on agricultural trade with Cuba is key to creating jobs and expanding exports from the U.S. agricultural sector. In a joint letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., the Senators urged Baucus to take up the Promoting American Agricultural and Medical Exports to Cuba Act of 2009 as quickly as possible. Lincoln and Cantwell are co-sponsors of the legislation and members of the Finance Committee.
Lincoln, who chairs the Senate Ag Committee, said that no country is better situated to take advantage of the consumer demand in Cuba than the United States, and no sector can expand our participation in that market more quickly and seamlessly than our agricultural sector.
Cantwell added that they are urging swift action on this legislation because relaxing U.S. governmental restrictions on agricultural and medical export to Cuba will benefit all agricultural regions at a critical time.
National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Bart Schott says the Cuban embargo works against U.S. farmers and ranchers. Schott says he can't believe that is what Congress intended this policy to accomplish. Schott believes a bill offered by House Ag Committee chairman Collin Peterson, D and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., offers good solutions that would eliminate the embargo's impact on the American farmer without getting rid of the embargo altogether.
H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, lifts the requirement that requires a Cuban payment for U.S. agricultural goods prior to those goods leaving port, instead of payment before title changes, which is generally at the point of destination. The bill also changes third party banking to allow the Cuban importer to pay a U.S. bank directly, instead of going through a non-U.S. third party bank.
NCGA members and supporters are urged to make their voices heard and encourage their House members to support relaxing agricultural trade restrictions to Cuba. Schott shared these views with members of the House Agriculture Committee last week.