After a historic passing vote, the National Farmers Union is pleased H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, passed the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture with no amendments.
“NFU joined 138 other organizations in support of this bill without amendments,” said NFU President Roger Johnson. “We are pleased progress is being made toward passage. We commend Committee Chairman Peterson (D-Minn.) for his leadership and hope the momentum will carry forward as the bill goes to the House floor.”
Just under 50 years ago 60 percent of Cuba’s food imports came from the United States. The International Trade Commission predicts lifting the ban on agricultural goods would increase U.S. exports to Cuba to between $924 million and $1.2 billion. Due to continued arbitrary restrictions on U.S. agricultural sales driven by executive orders rather than acts of Congress, agricultural sales have steadily declined with a recent report by the ITC showing approximately merely $290 million in agricultural cash sales to Cuba.
“In the current economic environment, it is vital to take advantage of all opportunities that will open markets for producers to sell their products, and this legislation does just that,” said Johnson.
The legislation contains a provision to eliminate the expensive and discriminatory requirement that payments to U.S. agricultural sellers must pass through banks in other countries, allowing direct financial transactions for agricultural sales to Cuba. It would also require agricultural exports to Cuba to meet the same payment requirements as exports to other countries and allow U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba.
“By allowing U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba, U.S. dollars will be put into the hands of Cuban citizens,” said Johnson. “The extra money will allow for the purchase of U.S. goods, improving the economy in both Cuba and the United States in the long term. This is a win/win for everyone involved.”
Source: National Farmers Union