WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) recently introduced The Cuba Trade Act of 2017 (S. 472), which would restore trade with Cuba and grant the private sector the freedom to export U.S. goods and services to Cuba while protecting U.S. taxpayers from any risk or exposure associated with such trade.
“Cuba is only 90 miles from our border, making it a natural market for our nation’s farmers and ranchers,” Moran said. “At a time when we need more markets badly as ever, lifting the embargo and opening up Cuba for American agricultural commodities would help increase exports, create new jobs and boost the U.S. economy. Keep in mind that when we don’t sell agricultural commodities to Cuba, somebody else does.”
Moran continued: “While our unilateral trade barriers block our own farmers and ranchers from filling the market, willing sellers such as Canada and France, China and others benefit at the American farmers’ expense. This legislation simply seeks to amend our own country’s laws so that American farmers can operate on a level playing field with the rest of the world.
“After more than 50 years of what was a well-intentioned embargo at the time it was enacted, it is time for American farmers and ranchers to truly have market access to Cuba’s 11 million consumers.”
The Cuba Trade Act of 2017 would:
• Lift the Cuba trade embargo to allow farmers, ranchers, small businesses and other private sector industries to freely conduct business with the island nation; and
• Grant U.S. financial institutions the freedom to extend credit to Cuba, while ensuring there is no financial risk to federal taxpayers.
Nearly 150 U.S. organizations have voiced their strong support for commonsense reforms to U.S.-Cuba relations, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Association of Wheat Growers, Engage Cuba and the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC).
“Kansas wheat producers understand that the best way to reverse the downward trend in the Kansas ag economy is to increase trade and expand market opportunities,” said Dickinson County farmer and President of the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers Ken Wood. “Opening up the Cuban market to Kansas wheat and other agricultural products would provide a much needed export boost at a time when we need to create more demand. We are thankful that Sen. Moran is leading the charge for Kansas farmers and commend him for reintroducing this common-sense legislation.”
“Sen. Moran’s legislation would roll back job-killing regulations that are hurting Kansas’ economy and the Cuban people,” said Engage Cuba President James Williams. “As a top U.S. exporter of agriculture goods and the largest wheat producer in the country, opening up trade with Cuba would allow Kansas agribusiness, which is an economic driver and job creator across the state, to significantly increase exports to a $2 billion neighboring market. After 55 years of failure, it’s time for a change. We applaud Sen. Moran for his leadership on ensuring that Kansas businesses and farmers can compete in emerging Cuban markets.”
“The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba strongly supports the Cuba Trade Act and applauds Senator Moran for his leadership in advancing critical growth opportunities for U.S. agriculture,” said USACC Chair Devry Boughner Vorwerk. “The Cuba Trade Act will provide the U.S. farm and business community with new market access opportunities and allow U.S. farmers, ranchers and food companies to efficiently address Cuban citizens’ food security needs. We look forward to a passage of this bill in the U.S. Senate so we can begin the job of opening full trade relations with Cuba.”
Moran has long fought for commonsense changes to trade policy with Cuba to open up more markets for American farmers and ranchers. On July 20, 2000, an amendment (H.Amdt.1031 to H.R.4871) offered by then-Rep. Moran prohibiting funds from being used to enforce sanctions for food, medicine and agriculture products in a sale to Cuba passed the House of Representatives (301-116). The adoption of this amendment opened another needed market to farmers throughout the country.
Unfortunately, changes in regulations by the U.S. Department of the Treasury in 2005 once again severely restricted this market for U.S. agriculture producers. Since that time, Moran has continued fighting to enable farmers and ranchers to compete on a level playing field with foreign competitors when trading with Cuba.
Special to Reflector-Chronicle, www.abilene-rc.com
March 14, 2017