NFU Commends President Obama on Cuba Outreach, Encourages Further Action

17 01 2011

WASHINGTON (Jan. 15, 2010) – National Farmers Union (NFU) commends President Obama on his recent action to relax travel restrictions for U.S. citizens to Cuba. NFU looks to the president and Congress to take further action to allow for U.S. agricultural sales in the country. In a statement Friday, the president directed the Secretaries of State, Treasury, and Homeland Security to take a series of steps to continue efforts to reach out to the Cuban people.

“NFU has long-supported completely opening trade with Cuba and removing the self-imposed embargo,” said NFU President Roger Johnson.

Just under 50 years ago 60 percent of Cuba’s food imports came from the United States. The International Trade Commission (ITC) predicts lifting the ban on agricultural goods would increase U.S. exports to Cuba to between $924 million and $1.2 billion. Due to continued arbitrary restrictions on U.S. agricultural sales driven by executive orders rather than acts of Congress, agricultural sales have steadily declined with a recent report by the ITC showing an estimated mere $290 million in agricultural cash sales to Cuba.

“It is shame to neglect the opportunity to conduct business with our Cuban neighbors,” said Johnson. “We are facing more than 50 years of failed policy with Cuba. NFU thanks the president for his efforts and encourages the administration and the 112th Congress to take up this issue that will provide market expansion for U.S. agricultural goods and the right of U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba.”

H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, would have allowed direct financial transactions for agricultural sales to Cuba; required agricultural exports to Cuba to meet the same payment requirements as exports to other countries; and allowed U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. The legislation died in the last Congressional session.

NFU policy supports the complete removal of the embargo and encourages reform in the financial transaction process as was outlined in H.R. 4645.

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