U.S. Agriculture Delegation Travels to Cuba, Protests Trade Embargo
A delegation organized by the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba, a group formed after the December announcement that U.S. and Cuba would restore diplomatic relations and comprised of 30 U.S. trade organizations and companies, traveled to Cuba on Monday for three days of meetings. According to the coalition’s chairperson, Cargill Executive Devry Boughner Vorwerk, the group hopes that the visit to Cuba will show Washington "a unifying voice that would like to see Congress act in 2015 and end the embargo.”
Despite a exception to the trade embargo for food back in 2000, the U.S. still does not accept Cuban credit, making it difficult for cash-strapped Cubans to pay for imports up front. Eliminating the embargo would allow U.S. farmers to resume exports of corn, soy and rice to Cuba and rebuild overall U.S. trade with Cuba. The past five years have seen a sharp decline in food exports to Cuba, dropping to $291 million in 2014 from $710 million in 2008. With a $2 billion market in Cuba, the coalition hopes that embargo removal would allow the U.S. to capture about $1 billion in agricultural and food exports.