WASHINGTON -- Ag groups last week expressed concern over President Donald Trump's announcement that his administration will restrict travel to Cuba and limit business activities in Cuba.
"We will very strongly restrict American dollars flowing to the military, security and intelligence services that are the core of Castro regime," Trump said.
The American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Farmers Union, the U.S. Grains Council and wheat growers say limiting trade could hurt U.S. exports.
On Friday Trump said he was rolling back President Obama's steps to liberalize relations with Cuba because they had not led to more democracy there.
"They will be restricted. We will enforce the ban on tourism. We will enforce the embargo. We will take concrete steps to ensure that investments flow directly to the people, so they can open private businesses and begin to build their country's great, great future -- a country of great potential,” said Trump.
But there is still hope as far as trade is concerned. President Trump did not move to close the U.S. embassy in Cuba or the Cuban embassy in Washington, and did not end direct commercial airline flights or cruise ship stops.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall wants the administration to be cautious with proposed trade restrictions with Cuba.
"We should be doing more, not less, to encourage U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba," Duvall said. "Our farmers and ranchers and the Cuban people would benefit from increased sales of high-quality, American-grown food and feed. The American Farm Bureau will continue to work with the administration and Congress to maintain and improve the conditions for agricultural trade with Cuba.”
“Cuba is a $2 billion annual food-import market," Duvall said. "Currently, because of some remaining restrictions, the United States sells about $200 million in agricultural products to Cuba, but that nation represents the kind of growth opportunity America's farmers and ranchers need during this challenging economic period.”
In the past eight months, Cuba bought more than 250,000 metric tons of corn from the US, thats 30-percent of their total demand, keeping the market open would make Cuba the 11th biggest market for US exports.