House Leadership Commits to Move Long-Term Cuba Trade Legislation

Legislation to loosen restrictions on trade with Cuba was dropped from the financial services appropriations bill in exchange for a commitment from House leaders to move stand-alone legislation at a later date, according to Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., who offered the amendment.

Crawford’s amendment to the financial services appropriations bill (HR 5485) would have allowed the offering of credit to Cuba to buy U.S. agriculture products. Current law prohibits credit for farm exports to Cuba, presenting the largest barrier U.S. producers face in accessing Cuba’s market.

Instead of the appropriations route, Crawford said he received a strong commitment from House leadership and South Florida delegation members to “pursue a long-term solution that will open up agriculture trade permanently,” according to a statement. Crawford also said he got assurances that the relevant committees will move Cuba ag trade legislation.

“We have agreed to work together to find a long-term solution that will work for our ag producers over time,” he said during a conversation on the House floor.

The Crawford amendment would have barred funds from being used to implement, administer or enforce Trade Sanction Reform and Export Enhancement Act Section 902(b), which requires ag commodity sales to Cuba be carried out in cash. In the Senate, similar language, proposed by Sens. John Boozman, R-Ark., and Jon Tester, D-Mont., was added to the Senate Fiscal 2017 financial services bill in committee.

A Crawford aide, who spoke on background, told Bloomberg BNA that a traditional stand-alone bill is the better route. A fight over the proposal would arise every year if the language was contained in the appropriations bill, the aide said.

The Cuba Agricultural Exports Act (HR 3687), sponsored by Crawford, proposes eliminating restrictions on providing credit for lending to Cubans, though it would keep a ban on lending to entities controlled by the Cuban government or its military. The aide said he expected a markup of the bill “later this year.”

BY DTN/Progressive Farmer,

July 11, 2016

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