Dec 12th, 2017 | By South Platte Sentinel | Editorial
Colorado – If anyone ever drops more lemons in your lap than you think you can handle, call Don Brown; the man has quite the recipe for lemonade.
When not-yet- president Donald Trump announced in late 2016 that he’d pull the U.S. out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, the 12-nation agreement collapsed, throwing the Pacific Rim into trading chaos and, as an unintended consequence, all but slammed the door on U.S. agriculture exports to Asian countries. Hit particularly hard was the beef industry, which saw Japanese tariffs on frozen beef skyrocket when certain quotas were reached.
Those tariffs would have been limited to 9 percent, the same as Australia now enjoys under its separate trade agreement with Japan; instead, U.S. frozen beef gets smacked with a 50 percent tariff and that makes it hard to export Colorado’s largest agricultural product to one of America’s largest trading partners.
But Colorado’s agriculture commissioner refused to see the TPP debacle as a problem; instead, he saw it as an opportunity to explore new markets. And he found one, almost literally, right under our noses.
Brown recently returned from a trade mission to Cuba where he began the laborious process of establishing relationships with the people in Cuba who will make trade possible there, should the U.S. ever actually lift the 60-year- old trade embargo. By the ag commissioner’s account, the place is ripe with opportunity; they’re farming with oxen on about 5 percent of the island’s arable land, their one railroad is rusting in the Caribbean moisture for lack of spare parts, and they’re importing about 80 percent of their food. If that doesn’t spell opportunity for enterprising American businesses, Mickey Mouse doesn’t have ears.
The Trump administration remains as diplomatically inept in this area as in all of its international dealings, declaring before the United Nations in November that the White House will approve of lifting the embargo when Cuba installs a U.S.-style democracy. That will happen when unicorns romp in the Rose Garden.
Ultimately, however, it’s not up to the person in the Oval Office to lift the embargo. That’s Congress’ job, and it’s one we’d like to see them take up very soon in the new year. That’s where the rest of us come in.We need to communicate, loudly and clearly, to the U.S. senators and representatives from Colorado, that Cuba represents a golden opportunity for Colorado agriculture exports. Our potatoes, dry beans and beef are exactly what Cubans want, and we produce plenty of those things.
It’s easy to find the contact information for Colorado’s congressional delegation online. We strongly urge our readers to use that information and tell our senators and representatives that lifting the Cuba trade embargo is a high priority for Colorado agriculture. We’d suggest you do it today.