Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., and Rick Crawford, R-Ark., on Thursday introduced the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act (H.R. 1898) to remove restrictions on private financing for U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba.
Under current law, Cuba must pay cash for imports of U.S. agricultural products.
"On top of a struggling farm economy, the president's trade war has been devastating for producers in our region," Bustos said in a news release. "That's why I'm working across the aisle on this legislation that would expand agricultural trade with Cuba – because we need to protect and open new markets for farmers and manufacturers. By providing Cubans with access to the standard credit terms offered by virtually every other nation in the world, we'll take meaningful steps toward increasing our agricultural exports and strengthening our local economy. That's a goal we should all be able to get behind."
"The Cuba embargo has been in place for several decades, yet it has done little to weaken the oppressive socialist government of Cuba and has instead stifled American business opportunities that are within a short reach," Crawford said. "Eliminating the cash-for-crop requirement would open up a substantial market for Arkansas farmers and open the door to future trade partnerships among our nations."
"Eliminating these onerous, outdated restrictions will finally allow our farmers to claim their fair market share in Cuba, while at the same time, giving the Cuban people the quality U.S. food they desire," said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a lobbying group. "Why should Cuba turn to Vietnam and Brazil for rice and soy when Arkansas and Illinois are right next door? We need to update our policies to reflect the realities of today and allow our farmers to compete in a market 90 miles off our shores."