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Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Agriculture groups unite to end Cuban embargo
Prominent U.S. food and agriculture associations and companies, including the National Chicken Council and National Turkey Federation, announced the formation of a coalition that seeks to advance trade relations between the United States and Cuba by ending the embargo policy. The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC) is supported by more than 30 agricultural organizations and companies committed to and united around the opportunity presented by a deeper U.S.-Cuba relationship.
"The historic policy changes announced by the president will take steps to make American farm and products more price competitive, which will expand choices for Cuban shoppers at the grocery store and create a new customer base for America's farmers and ranchers," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The president and this administration look forward to engaging in an honest and serious debate about next steps in Cuba, and I have no doubt that the USACC will have an important role to play as these conversations continue and we expand our relationship with the Cuban people in the coming years."
The purpose of the USACC is to expand Cuba as a market for U.S. food and agriculture exports and address liberalizing trade between the United States and Cuba. The coalition will work to end the embargo and allow for open trade and investment.
"Changes to U.S. policy toward Cuba can support economic growth and well-being in both countries," said Devry Boughner Vorwerk, Cargill vice president and chair of the USACC. "Improvements in Cuba market access allows for U.S. farmers, ranchers and food companies to serve a nearby market and the Cuban people gain improved access to healthy and affordable food and feed."
Under current sanctions, U.S. food and agriculture companies can legally export to Cuba. However, financing and trade restrictions limit the ability of the U.S. industry to competitively serve the market. Increasingly, foreign competitors such as Canada, Brazil, and Argentina are able to win market share from the U.S. agriculture and food industry because those countries do not face the same restrictions on financing.
The USACC seeks to establish a more collaborative relationship with Cuban agricultural producers and support the import of food, beverages and other agricultural products produced in Cuba. Two-way trade is a critical step in advancing an efficient and globally competitive trade relationship.
Cuba is a logical market for U.S. food and agriculture exports with 11 million consuming citizens only 90 miles off the coast of the United States. Normalizing trade relations between the United States and Cuba will enhance Cuban citizens' access to affordable food while providing the U.S. farm and business community with new market access opportunities. Liberalized trade will drive growth in both countries and allow the U.S. farmers, ranchers and food companies to efficiently address Cuban citizens' food security needs.
USACC members include American Farm Bureau Federation, American Soybean Association, Corn Refiners Association, Illinois Cuba Working Group, Illinois Soybean Growers, Illinois Farm Bureau, International Dairy Foods Association, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Barley Growers Association, National Chicken Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Farmers Union, National Grain and Feed Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Sorghum Producers, National Turkey Federation, North American Export Grain Association, North American Meat Institute, Soyfoods Association of North America, US Canola Association, US Dairy Export Council, US Dry Bean Council, US Soybean Export Council, US Wheat Associates, USA Rice Federation, Smithfield Foods, Chicago Foods International, Cargill and CoBank.