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Could farmers cash in on more open trade with Cuba?

Could farmers cash in on more open trade with Cuba?
VT governor joins leaders of other states in asking Congress to
normalize trade relations with Cuba
Published 5:46 PM EDT Oct 14, 2015

COLCHESTER, Vt. —American farmers are missing out on potentially tens of
millions of dollars in sales every year to buyers in Cuba, Gov. Peter
Shumlin, D-Vermont, said, as he pushed Congress to lift trade sanctions
against the Caribbean island nation.

“This doesn’t make any sense,” Shumlin said of trade rules he called
outdated. “Vermont farmers, as an example, are losing out on the ability
to sell the best milk in the world to Cuba because of these ridiculous
trade sanctions. Let’s lift them, let’s get on with it; it’s time to
treat Cuba the way we do any other foreign nation.”

Watch this story

This week, Shumlin, along with the governors of Alabama, California,
Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, sent a
letter to majority and minority leaders in the U.S. House and Senate,
asking them to normalize relations.

A prime reason, the letter said, is to create new opportunities for
American farmers to export dairy and other agricultural commodities.
Shumlin said last year, New Zealand and European countries shipped more
than $160 million in dairy exports to Cuba.

However, the letter noted, “Thus far, our country’s agriculture sector
has led the way in reestablishing meaningful commercial ties with Cuba,
but a sustainable trade relationship cannot be limited to one sector or
involve only one-way transactions.”

Ending trade restrictions with Cuba could open up an 11 million-person
market for industries, including dairy, renewable energy, consumer and
manufactured goods, technology, tourism and others, Shumlin said.

The letter acknowledged it is legal to export farm products to Cuba
under current rules, but explained that practically, it can be hard,
because of financing restrictions.

“They have to pay cash up front,” said Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vermont, who
shares Shumlin’s interest in opening Cuba up to more trade with the U.S.

Welch said U.S. companies looking to grow their business with meaningful
and regular exports need to be able to offer standard credit terms to
Cuban buyers, which they currently cannot do.

“All other countries have credit,” Welch said. “And we’ve got to make
that happen in order, I think, for us to have a shot of having
significant exports of dairy to Cuba.”

Mateo Kelher’s Jasper Hill Farm ripens award-winning cheeses in
Greensboro Bend, Vermont. Kelher called any potential increase in dairy
exports a boon for the industry.

“If we’re able to create new markets, large and small, home and abroad,
that’s going to benefit Vermont dairy farmers and our working
landscapes,” Kelher said.

Rep. Welch called Congress “dysfunctional” right now, but said
agriculture is often an area of bipartisan agreement since Republicans
and Democrats alike have constituents who farm. Because of that, Welch
said he is optimistic Congress will get somewhere with this issue.

Read the full text of the governors’ letter to members of Congress:
Click here:

Source: Could farmers cash in on more open trade with Cuba? | Local News
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