ASA Welcomes House Ag Committee Vote to Lift Restrictions on Cuba

Jun 01, 2010

The American Soybean Association (ASA) welcomes yesterday’s vote by the House Agriculture Committee to expand U.S. agriculture exports and lift travel restriction on Cuba. The legislation, H.R.4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, was introduced by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson (D-MN) earlier this year to end nearly 50 years of sanctions on Cuba.

"ASA opposes restrictions on exports of U.S. agricultural commodities for national security or foreign policy reasons that are not supported by all other major world producers and exporters," said ASA President Rob Joslin, a soybean producer from Sidney, Ohio. "ASA favors a normal trading relationship with Cuba including direct banking and elimination of the cash in advance rule. ASA also supports the ability of U.S. cooperators to use Foreign Market Development and Market Access Program funds to promote U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba."

In 2009, there were more than $144 million worth of soy products exported to Cuba. If current policies that require third country banks, cash advance payments and limits on travel were lifted, these exports would be expected to increase.

"This legislation supports President Obama’s National Export Initiative because it would increase exports of U.S. agricultural products," Joslin said. "ASA urges the full House and Senate to support this legislation and bring it to a vote as soon as possible."

H.R.4645 would eliminate both the need to go through banks in other countries to conduct agricultural trades and the accompanying fees those banks charge. The bill would also allow agricultural exports to Cuba to meet the same payment requirements as exports to other countries, which means payment would be required when the title of the shipment changes hands, not in advance. Finally, the bill would allow U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba, reducing the bureaucratic red tape currently required for individuals to travel to Cuba to facilitate new agriculture sales.

"Agricultural producers in the United States are well positioned to benefit from additional trade in Cuba," Joslin said. "U.S. suppliers can reach the three major Cuban ports in a matter of one day or less, compared to the number of days it takes our competitors from Brazil."