U.S. Policy Reversal on Cuba Eliminates Opportunity for Family Farmers

During a speech today in Miami, Florida, President Donald Trump announced plans to roll back an Obama-era detente with Cuba, a move that will tighten export restrictions and create roadblocks in the distribution of goods, complicating agricultural trade with Cuba.

Reactions:

National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson:
"At a time when family farmers and ranchers are enduring a steep decline in net farm income, it is disheartening to see President Trump complicate an opportunity to expand U.S. agricultural markets. Todays decision unfortunately sets us in a backwards trajectory, moving away from increasing market share in a country of 11 million people just 90 miles away from U.S. shores.

NFU has been working for decades to break free from 50 years of failed policies that have created barriers to the Cuban market. We expected that the U.S. would finally tear down these self-imposed barriers when the Obama administration signaled the U.S. would work towards normalized relations with Cuba. Instead, it now seems the Trump administration is determined to look to the past instead of leading us into the future. We are very disappointed with this regressive approach."

American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall:
"We urge the administration to exercise caution in rolling out any new restrictions on doing business with Cuba that would limit our agricultural export opportunities. We should be doing more, not less, to encourage U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba. Our farmers and ranchers and the Cuban people would benefit from increased sales of high-quality, American-grown food and feed. The American Farm Bureau will continue to work with the administration and Congress to maintain and improve the conditions for agricultural trade with Cuba.

Cuba is a $2 billion annual food-import market. Currently, because of some remaining restrictions, the United States sells about $200 million in agricultural products to Cuba, but that nation represents the kind of growth opportunity Americas farmers and ranchers need during this challenging economic period.

Self-imposed trade restrictions have kept Americas farmers and ranchers from competing on a level playing field and have closed off one of our nearest ag export markets. Cuba has not purchased any rice or wheat from the U.S. in many years, instead buying from other countries around the world. As we cope with the biggest drop in farm prices in decades, we need to be opening up markets for American farm goods, not sending signals that might lead to less access."


Wesley Spurlock, president of the National Corn Growers Association:
"Cuba should be an easy market for U.S. corn farmers. Instead, that market has gone to our competitors costing us an estimated $125 million in lost opportunity each year. If trade with Cuba were normalized, it would represent our 11th largest market for corn. Instead, we have just 11 percent market share in a country only 90 miles from our border. At a time when the farm economy is struggling, we ask our leaders in Washington not to close doors on market opportunities for American agriculture."



U.S. Grains Council (USGC) President and CEO Tom Sleight:
"The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has worked in Cuba for nearly two decades to help capture grain demand and develop its livestock industry within the confines of U.S. policy. While the announcement today will make our efforts in Cuba more difficult and almost certainly cost U.S. corn farmers sales in the short term we have every intention of continuing our work there to build long-term, mutually-beneficial trade."


More reactions as they become available

Photo: courtesy U.S. Grains Council

Story source: press releases

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