Posted April 24, 2015
Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and John Boozman, R-Ark., introduced a bill today that would allow banks to finance agricultural exports sent to Cuba, helping to open up Cuban markets to American farmers and ranchers, according to an Agri-Pulse article available here. National Miami Herald also published an article available hereand McClatchy DC here.
“While farmers in North Dakota and all across the country dedicate their lives to feeding folks around the world, we have to make sure our producers have the opportunities they need to get their products to market,” said Heitkamp. “The biggest obstacle in that effort involves private companies and banks not being able to provide credit to export agricultural commodities to Cuba, where these crops are in high demand.”
The bill seeks to remove one of the main barriers to open agricultural trade with Cuba: the prohibition on credit sales. The Agricultural Export Expansion Act, would lift the current ban on private banks and companies from offering credit for agricultural exports to Cuba, according to McClatchy DC.
Overall, Cuba imports more than $2 billion a year in food and agricultural products. The U.S. share of that has been several hundred million dollars in recent years, but it has been trending down and totaled less than $300 million in 2014. Agricultural experts see the potential for U.S. sales to exceed $1.2 billion annually within five years, according to Miami Herald.
The U.S. farm lobby is pushing hard for a full repeal of the trade embargo, and while there is bipartisan support for such a move, it remains very controversial in Congress and experts say a full repeal is very unlikely this Congress.
For more information on international law and organizations, please visit the National Agricultural Law Center’s website here.