Recently, the American Soybean Association (ASA) released remarks in which it stated that ASA welcomed legislation introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and backed by a bipartisan group of senators including Sens. Michael Enzi (RWyo.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Jeff Flake (RAriz.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Dick
Durbin (DIll.) that would end the United States’ trade embargo with Cuba. In a portion of the statement issued by ASA President and Brownfield, Texas, farmer Wade Cowan, he said, “We are the nation’s leader in agricultural trade not because of one large relationship with a major purchaser, but because of our work in emerging economies like Cuba’s, which is why we’re so excited to support – as we long have – an end to the embargo. We applaud Sen. Klobuchar and all the bill’s co-sponsors for their bold approach in introducing this bill, and we fully encourage its passage.
“The Cuban marketplace is valuable for our farmers because of its increasing demand not only for soybeans and vegetable oil, but also for the livestock and meat products that make up the consumer of our soybean meal,” the Texas farmer added. “That said, we have been previously able to sell our products to Cuba, but only under restrictions, so likely the most significant part of the bill is that it allows U.S. farmers, ranchers and agribusinesses to have normal business and trade relationships with importers in Cuba, just like we do with almost every other nation, including normal banking, credit and market development relationships. The bill would allow our industry to conduct market development activities in Cuba as well as make available credit guarantee programs.
“Finally, the bill would make permanent the elimination of restrictions such as the ‘cash in advance’ interpretation, recently addressed by Executive Order, which have frustrated and bottled up trade. If passed and signed into law, the bill means that not only Cuban buyers would be afforded the same opportunities as other nations, but that we as American exporters would be free to access the market like any other trading partner.
“This gives the legislation the real potential to help build a strong export partner only 90 miles from American soil,” Cowan said.
Betsy Ward, President and CEO, USA Rice Federation, noted that the rice industry also looks forward to the lifting of the embargo.
“USA Rice has long supported normal commercial relations with Cuba – allowing Cuba to sell products to the United States, and Americans to visit the island,” Ward said. “This will generate the foreign exchange Cuba requires to buy products they need from us – like rice. Two-way trade is the foundation of our trade with every other country in the world, and it should certainly be so here in our own backyard.”
Lifting of the Cuban embargo has been a long time in coming. Hopefully, the lengthy wait is over for many of our American commodities – including soybeans and rice – and for the Cuban people, who have indicated that they also look forward to being able to purchase American goods again.