Sunday, January 29, 2017

Ag to Trump - Help trade with Cuba

Ag to Trump: Help trade with Cuba
January 28, 2017 8:00 am • By Agriculture Coalition(0) Comments

On behalf of the undersigned U.S. agriculture, trade, commerce related
businesses and associations, we urge you to continue to show your
support for American agriculture by advancing the relationship between
the U.S. and Cuba and building on the progress that has already been made.

Net farm income is down 46 percent from just three years ago,
constituting the largest three-year drop since the start of the Great
Depression. This strain on the farm economy is felt across all sectors
of the industry and the thousands of small communities that make up
rural America.

The importance of trade to America's farmers and ranchers cannot be
overstated. The share of U.S. agricultural production exported overseas
is 20 percent by volume, with some sectors being much higher. For
example, exports account for over 70 percent of U.S. production of tree
nuts and cotton, over 60 percent of soybeans and over 50 percent of rice
and wheat. Positive farm income throughout America would not be possible
without increasing access to foreign markets, like Cuba.

Mr. President-elect, as an international business icon, you understand
how difficult it is to be competitive without the ability to extend
credit to your customers. We need the administration's support for
legislation that would remove these arbitrary and archaic restrictions
on extending credit for the purchase of agricultural commodities and

Your support in removing outdated financing and trade barriers for
exporting agricultural products and equipment to our island neighbor
could significantly strengthen a U.S. industry which supports 17 million
jobs across the country, and can provide the Cuban people with
high-quality American-grown food.

Cuba imports nearly 80 percent of its food to feed a population of 11
million people and upwards of 3 million tourists annually. Cuba's $2
billion agriculture import market could provide tremendous benefits for
farmers across the country and help American agribusiness offset recent

In addition to the size of the Cuban market, its proximity to U.S. ports
allows for considerably lower shipping costs and shorter delivery times
than our foreign competitors. The logistical advantages alone should
make Cuba a common-sense partner for two-way commerce.

Instead, the federal government overreach has put American farmers at a
global disadvantage. U.S. agriculture continues to lose out to our
foreign competitors and our net sales have been steadily declining since

As a result of trade restrictions, the U.S. has fallen from its position
as the No. 1 supplier of agricultural products from 2003 to 2012, to now
the No. 5 supplier after the European Union, Brazil, Argentina and
Vietnam. The U.S. needs to be No. 1 again. Especially given many of
Cuba's imports, including rice, poultry, dairy, soy, wheat and corn,
make up more than 70 percent of what they import and they're all grown
right here in the U.S. by hardworking American farmers.

As a broad cross-section of rural America, we urge you not to take steps
to reverse progress made in normalizing relations with Cuba, and also
solicit your support for the agricultural business sector to expand
trade with Cuba to help American farmers and our associated industries.
It's time to put the 17 million American jobs associated with
agriculture ahead of a few hardline politicians in Washington.

We look forward to working closely with you and your team, and please
let us know if we can provide any assistance moving forward.

These comments are from a letter sent to President-elect Donald Trump by
a coalition of more than 100 U.S. organizations representing farmers and
agribusinesses. Full text of the letter is at

Source: Ag to Trump: Help trade with Cuba -

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