James Williams 8:35 p.m. CT March 27, 2017
USDA Secretary designate Sonny Perdue is an exceptionally qualified
nominee to lead the USDA. Mr. Perdue has long been an advocate of
expanding trade with Cuba's $2 billion agricultural import market. We're
very optimistic that Mr. Perdue will be confirmed by the Senate and will
continue to support American agribusiness by advancing efforts to lift
the U.S. embargo on Cuba.
In an exchange with committee member Senator John Boozman from Arkansas,
Perdue said, "with respect to Cuba, for those of you on the Gulf Coast
and those along the East Coast as well as those who have been mentioned
by your colleagues in the upper Midwest, I think we would love to have
Cuba as a customer in many things.
As Mr. Perdue notes, American producers are able to sell their products
to Cuba. However, they are unable to offer private financing for the
sale of agricultural commodities to Cuba. As a result, American farmers
have consistently lost market share in Cuba's market every year since
2009. While this restriction is codified in law and would require an act
of Congress, Mr. Perdue went on to announce his support for legislative
efforts to remove these financing restrictions.
"So I think we have the product they need and they would like the
product. The real issue I heard regarding Cuba was the financing part
and certainly that would come probably under another area, not the USDA,
but I would support their efforts if we could get private financing,"
Perdue said, referring to the bipartisan Cuba Agricultural Exports
Act which would remove restrictions on offering credit for the export of
agricultural commodities to Cuba.
That bill has been introduced by Congressman Rick Crawford from Arkansas
in the House and Senators Heidi Heitkamp from North Dakota and John
Boozman from Arkansas.
Williams is president of Engage Cuba
Source: Perdue supports expanded trade with Cuba -