|JUNE 11, 2010 --
Representatives of America's agriculture and agribusiness community, broader business community, and other advocates including the National Grange, recently urged members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture to co-sponsor and support H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act. Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) and Rep. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) introduced this legislation.
Since sales of U.S. farm goods were allowed into Cuba in 2000, U.S. farmers have seen $4 billion in sales go into that market and payment has been received from the Cubans without issue. Unfortunately, due to continued arbitrary restrictions on U.S. agricultural sales, American producers have failed to realize the full potential of this market. The coalition urges Congress to help support America's farmers increase their export sales, especially in these difficult economic times.
H.R. 4645 will not repeal the U.S. embargo or lift the restrictions on credit. Cuban exports to the United States would continue to be prohibited. The bill simply clarifies how U.S. farmers and agricultural businesses conduct sales to Cuba and allows U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba, consistent with their ability to do so to every other country, including other U.S. sanctioned countries. These modest changes will establish and protect U.S. agriculture's reputation as a reliable supplier and provide the opportunity to maintain and grow U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba.
H.R. 4645 represents an opportunity to remove unjustified U.S. barriers to our own agricultural sector in order to increase the export competitiveness of U.S. agriculture products in Cuba. As a result, the coalition urges Congressional support of the bill as introduced without amendments.