For Immediate Release January 14, 2021
Contact: Paul Johnson Phone: 773-814-2493; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
United States Agriculture Coalition for Cuba Encourages Biden Administration to Improve U.S. / Cuba Agriculture Relations
The United States Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC) today wrote to President-Elect Biden to urge a return to policies of engagement toward Cuba, for the sake of the U.S. national interest, to boost U.S. food exports to Cuba, and to support the development of beneficial relations between our countries’ agricultural sectors.
The text of the letter follows:
Dear Mr. President-Elect: The undersigned members of the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba congratulate you on your election victory and wish you every success in office.
We would like to offer our views on U.S. relations with our neighbors in Cuba.
We share your view that six decades of economic sanctions against Cuba have been ineffectual. Our sanctions hurt the Cuban people, limit American influence in Cuba, and antagonize friends and allies, while doing nothing to advance any U.S. interest.
A turn to policies of engagement will serve our national interest and benefit U.S. agriculture, which has long practiced many forms of engagement on a global scale. Freed of restrictions, we expect that ties between our agricultural sectors will produce important economic and humanitarian benefits and contribute to better relations between our peoples and governments. American strength in agricultural exports has been built over the years on the principle that all markets matter.
Cuba is an opportunity for U.S. farmers and ranchers: it imports $2 billion in food each year, less than ten percent from the United States. U.S. exports of potatoes, wheat, animal feed, dairy, poultry, rice, and other products stand to grow significantly.
U.S. farmers, businesses, private organizations, NGOs, and universities can work with Cuban counterparts on the challenges of increasing productivity, adapting to climate change, and building sound commercial strategies.
With Cuba now allowing its private sector to import and export, and also inviting foreign investment in private farm cooperatives, the opportunities for Americans to assist in the growth of that private sector have expanded
We offer these recommendations.
First, we urge you to resume efforts to normalize relations. We hope you make clear that neither our principles nor our interests are served by harming the Cuban economy and increasing hardship for the eleven million neighbors who live in it. We urge you to inform Congress that your Administration would welcome legislation to end the embargo entirely, should Congress choose to act.
Second, we urge early action to restore the Cuban Asset Control Regulations to those in place January 20, 2017 and to suspend Title III of the Helms-Burton Act of 1996. These regulatory steps are important to U.S. agriculture, to business generally, and to any Americans seeking to make a positive difference. Recent experience shows that U.S. travelers propel growth across Cuba’s private sector, benefiting many thousands of Cuban families.
Third, we urge you to support legislation to put U.S. exporters on an equal footing with our competitors by allowing us to negotiate trade terms including private financial credit.
Fourth, we urge resuming full operation of our Embassy in Havana as health considerations permit. The lack of consular and other operations impedes travel, business, and effective diplomacy. A full Embassy staff, which we hope will include U.S. Department of Agriculture personnel, can support continued work on the 2016 agriculture memoranda of understanding, especially in plant and animal health, and to create conditions for two-way trade, including Cuban exports. American agriculture supports a Cuba policy based on our broad national interests, enabling citizens and business across our country to engage freely.
We are confident that such a course will have strong bipartisan support, and we urge you to take it.
We appreciate your consideration of our views.
USA Rice Federation
National Corn Growers Association
American Soybean Association
US Grains Council
U.S. Wheat Associates
National Sorghum Producers
National Potato Council
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Onion Association
National Turkey Federation
US Dry Bean Council
Kansas Isbell Farms-England,
Arkansas American Feed Industry
Michigan Agri-Business Association
Minnesota Department of Agriculture
Virginia Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services
Iowa Corn Growers Association
Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture
Kansas Wheat Commission
North Dakota Sietsema Farms, Allendale,
Michigan Allied Potato-Bakersfield, California