Thursday, February 2, 2017

ENGAGE CUBA NEW MEXICO STATE COUNCIL PRAISES SEN. UDALL FOR INTRODUCING LEGISLATION TO HELP FARMERS EXPORT TO CUBA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Thurs., Feb. 2, 2017 CONTACT: Madeleine Russak (626) 390-2158 ENGAGE CUBA NEW MEXICO STATE COUNCIL PRAISES SEN. UDALL FOR INTRODUCING LEGISLATION TO HELP FARMERS EXPORT TO CUBA ~ The Engage Cuba New Mexico State Council, the New Mexico chapter of the Engage Cuba coalition, praised Sen. Udall for supporting expanded trade with Cuba ~ WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) joined a bipartisan group of senators, including Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and John Boozman (R-AR), in introducing the Agricultural Export Expansion Act, which would remove arbitrary restrictions on offering private financing for U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba. The New Mexico chapter of the national Engage Cuba coalition, called the Engage Cuba New Mexico State Council, praised Senator Udall for supporting New Mexico farmers who seek to expand agricultural exports to our island neighbor. Cuba imports nearly 80% of its food, which amounts to about $2 billion annually, creating a huge potential export market for American farmers only 90 miles off our shores. However, U.S. financing restrictions limit the ability of U.S. producers to compete for market share. "New Mexico farmers can sell to Cuba, but with one hand tied behind their backs. This commonsense legislation simply lets them compete. Removing arbitrary financing restrictions on selling to Cuba could significantly increase New Mexico agricultural exports, create jobs across the state and provide the Cuban people with high-quality American food," said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba, a national coalition of private companies, organizations and local leaders dedicated to lifting the Cuban embargo. "We applaud Senator Udall for his leadership in supporting New Mexico agribusiness by making it easier for farmers to sell to our island neighbor." U.S. producers have been allowed to export agricultural commodities to Cuba since Congress passed the Trade Sanctions Reform Act (TSRA) in 2000, but with restrictions on financing. As a cash poor country, U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba have declined every year since 2009 – in terms of dollar amount, market share, and in the variety of products shipped. The U.S. used to be the number one supplier of agricultural commodities to Cuba, but has since dropped to fifth behind Brazil, China, Argentina, and Vietnam. More information on Cuba's agricultural market is available here. On, Jan. 12, a national coalition of over 100 U.S. agriculture, trade, commerce-related businesses and associations, urged then President-elect Trump to support American agriculture by strengthening the bilateral trade relationship between the U.S. and Cuba. The letter, organized by the Engage Cuba and USA Rice, also encourages the president to support the Agricultural Exports Expansion Act. U.S. Senators Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Angus King (I-Maine), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) joined in cosponsoring the Senate bill. The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee approved the bill as an amendment to a financial services spending bill last year, as well as in July 2015. The House companion version, the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act was introduced by U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford (R-AR), Ted Poe (R-TX), and Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, Mike Conaway (R-TX), on Friday, January 13. About Engage Cuba Engage Cuba is the leading coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba. As a 501(c)(4) bipartisan non-profit whose funds are entirely dedicated to advocacy efforts, Engage Cuba is the only organization whose focus is U.S.-Cuba legislative advocacy. Engage Cuba is also committed to supporting the Cuban people and helping organizations and businesses navigate Cuban and U.S. regulations. The organization has the largest bipartisan lobbying operation working on U.S.-Cuba policy. Together with the Engage Cuba Policy Council of renowned experts, Engage Cuba provides timely updates on opportunities for U.S. business in Cuba, regulations, and market analysis. To get involved with Engage Cuba’s mission or learn more, visit: http://www.engagecuba.org.

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