Friday, July 7, 2017

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Scaling back Cuban trade hurts Ag

Washington-President Donald Trump announced last month his plans to scrap normalization of U.S.-Cuba trade. Its all part of his plan to strike the Obama administration's to ease restrictions on both travel and business between the two countries.

While that sends a political message, its setting trade back and hurting agriculture.

Farm groups and Senator Rand Paul have started releasing opposition statements to the Trump restrictions with Cuba, saying a slumping farm economy needs new markets for wheat, row crops and beef.

Senator Rand Paul is critical of the cold war embargo.

"Instead of hiding our capitalism behind a failed embargo, we should tear down the walls of trade restriction and open up travel and trade even more. Instead of allowing the socialists to continue their propaganda unopposed, we should have sufficient confidence in capitalism to let them go head to head," said Paul.

Paul added, "Let's see what Cubans will choose when they come face to face with iPhones, modern cars, and tourists with fistfuls of dollars buying Cuban services and goods."

Estimated Ag exports to Cuba are worth about $125 million in the first few years with the potential to double by 2020 but,thats small in comparison to other nations like Canada and China, that buy over $100 billion in agricultural exports.

Meanwhile the US Farm economy is slumping and every dollar counts. Since the policy changes under the Obama administration, substantial progress has been made, with shipments of U.S. corn and soybeans to Cuba increasing 420 percent in 2016 from a year earlier to 268,360 metric tons (10.6 million bushels), according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. This year is following the same trends as 2016, with the first four months seeing total shipments of U.S. grain and soy at 142,860 MT (about 5.6 MB), up from 49,090 MT (about 1.9 MB) during the same time frame of 2016.

“Trade is the salve for getting enemies to be friends,” said Kansas wheat farmer Jay Armstrong. “You have sectors of both economies that suddenly need each other. You have leaders who need to get along.”

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