US Representative Rick Crawford has filed a bill that is designed to make it easier for Cuba to purchase agricultural products from Arkansas. The Republican from Jonesboro introduced the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act yesterday. The bill would provide new economic opportunities and jobs for America’s agriculture industry by making it easier to trade with Cuba. Crawford says current financial and marketing restrictions make it very hard to do business in the communist nation. The Cuba Agricultural Exports Act would release those restrictions and give farmers access to marketing programs that would help the United States compete overseas, and would also allow some American investment in Cuban agribusinesses. The Cuba Agriculture Exports Act is expected to be brought up in the House Agriculture Committee. Committee Chairman Representative Michael Conaway, a Republican from Texas, and Republican Representative Ted Poe, also from Texas, has co-sponsored the bill.
Here is the press release from Crawford's office:
– On October 6th, 2015, Representative Rick Crawford (AR-1) introduced H.R. 3687, the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act on behalf on himself, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway (TX-11), and Representative Ted Poe (TX-2).
Under current law, US producers are permitted to export agricultural commodities to Cuba. However, restrictions on financing and marketing harm US competitiveness in the Cuban market and limit export potential. The Cuba Agricultural Exports Act would repeal restrictions on export financing and give producers access to Department of Agriculture marketing programs that help the US compete in foreign markets. Further, this legislation enables limited American investment in Cuban agribusinesses, as long as US regulators certify the entity is privately-owned and not controlled by the Government of Cuba, or its agents. A copy of the bill is attached.
Concerning the bill’s introduction, Representative Crawford said,
“While the Administration has called on Congress to repeal the embargo entirely, I think the correct approach is to make cautious and incremental changes to current Cuba policies in ways that benefit the United States. The Cuba Agricultural Exports Act would allow our producers to compete on a level playing field in the Cuban market, a significant opportunity for American farmers and ranchers. Not only is it estimated that Cuba imports around 80 percent of its food supply, but the US also enjoys an inherent advantage due to our close geographic proximity and state of the art production and food distribution infrastructure. I believe that agriculture trading partnerships with Cuba will help build a foundation of goodwill and cooperation that will open the door to long-sought reforms in the same the way that American influence has brought reform to other communist states.”
House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway said,
"Many in the agricultural industry have expressed a strong interest in increasing exports to Cuba due to the nation’s potential growth as a market for U.S. agricultural products. I appreciate Rick Crawford’s leadership on this bill—especially his efforts at reaching consensus with various stakeholders on this important issue.”
The Cuba Agricultural Exports Act would provide new economic opportunities and jobs for America’s agriculture industry by providing access to a market that is valued at over $1 billion per year. Supported by the US Agriculture Cuba Coalition.