Peterson, Klobuchar call for increased U.S. food and commodity exports to CubaHouse Committee on Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar joined members of the National Farmers Union (NFU) this week to call for passage of the Travel Restriction and Export Enhancement Act.
By: Staff Report, Alexandria Echo Press
Washington, D.C. – House Committee on Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson and U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar joined members of the National Farmers Union (NFU) this week to call for passage of the Travel Restriction and Export Enhancement Act. It would boost U.S. agriculture by easing restrictions on the sale of homegrown food and commodities to Cuba. Congressman Leonard Boswell (D-IA) also attended the event and voiced support for the bill.
“I am proud of the bipartisan work done by the Agriculture Committee to end the short-sighted and failed policy that limits access to the Cuban market for American farmers and ranchers. This is the right policy at the right time,” House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson said.
“American famers can greatly benefit from access to new markets in Cuba, particularly at a time when our economy needs it most,” Senator Klobuchar said. “This bill can help create jobs by promoting U.S. agriculture exports, and it would give the Cuban and American people the chance to engage in open communication – an important step towards improving relations between our two nations.”
“The self-imposed embargo on sales to Cuba is not working. The time is now for change in U.S. policy,” NFU President Roger Johnson said. “In the current economic environment, it is vital to take advantage of all opportunities that will open markets for U.S. farmers and ranchers to sell their products.”
The Travel Restriction and Export Enhancement Act would permanently remove key barriers facing American farmers who wish to export to Cuba by eliminating the requirement that transactions take place through a third-country bank. It would also remove the U.S. travel ban to Cuba, allowing U.S. farmers and business owners to develop a customer base in Cuba and create as many as 23,000 jobs for the U.S. travel industry. Peterson introduced this legislation in February 2010, and the House Agriculture Committee passed it in June. Klobuchar, along with Senator Mike Enzi (R-WY), introduced companion legislation in the Senate legislation last March.
In 2009, the U.S. International Trade Commission estimated that U.S. exports to Cuba could increase by nearly $500 million a year if provisions in this legislation were enacted. In addition to the National Farmers Union, the bill is supported by a broad coalition of national business and agriculture industry groups.