Bustos, Crawford Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Agricultural Trade with Cuba

Illinois Farm Bureau, Soybean Growers Praise Legislation as Opportunity for Producers

WASHINGTON – Today, Representatives Cheri Bustos (IL-17) and Rick Crawford (AR-01) introduced the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act – bipartisan legislation that will expand trade opportunities for American farmers and manufacturers.

Currently, finance and marketing barriers exist that harm farmers’ competitiveness in the Cuban market and limit our agricultural 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 U.S. compete in foreign markets. Further, this legislation enables limited American investment in Cuban agribusinesses, as long as U.S. regulators certify the entity is privately-owned and not controlled by the Government of Cuba, or its agents.

“On top of a struggling farm economy, the president’s trade war has been devastating for producers in our region,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “That’s why I’m working across the aisle on this legislation that would expand agricultural trade with Cuba – because we need to protect and open new markets for farmers and manufacturers. By providing Cubans with access to the standard credit terms offered by virtually every other nation in the world, we’ll take meaningful steps toward increasing our agricultural exports and strengthening our local economy.”

“The Cuba embargo has been in place for several decades, yet it has done little to weaken the oppressive socialist government of Cuba and has instead stifled American business opportunities that are within a short reach,” Congressman Crawford said. “Eliminating the cash-for-crop requirement would open up a substantial market for Arkansas farmers and open the door to future trade partnerships among our nations.”

“Illinois farmers need all the markets we can get,” said Richard Guebert, Jr., President of the Illinois Farm Bureau. “Trade is our biggest demand driver. Cuba is close to our shores and one we should own. Illinois Farm Bureau has actively been engaged in and supportive of improved diplomatic and trade relationships with Cuba for decades. We support the reintroduction of this bill.”

“Illinois Soybean Growers believes it is important that we continue working with Cuba by both expanding our export opportunities and our trade relations,” said Lynn Rohrscheib, Chairwoman of the Illinois Soybean Growers. “We believe that improvement of economic conditions and trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba is the foundation for future success. Cuba is a significant market for Illinois soybean farmers like me who rely on export markets to help sustain our farms and our livelihood.”

BACKGROUND

Congresswoman Bustos has twice been to Cuba – first, for a bipartisan trade mission; and second, as part of President Obama’s historic delegation to Cuba. She has consistently pushed for legislation that would cut red tape facing farmers and manufacturers in Illinois and give Cubans access to standard credit to buy American-made goods. Congresswoman Bustos has also spoken out against the current administration’s attempts to roll back recent progress between the United States and Cuba. Finally, last month during an Agriculture Committee hearing, Congresswoman Bustos stressed the potential for agricultural trade with Cuba to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

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