NFU submits testimony to House Ways & Means Committee on trade with Cuba

By Agri-Pulse Staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

Washington, April 29 – In a House Ways & Means Subcommittee hearing on U.S.-Cuba Policy Thursday, National Farmers Union (NFU) President Roger Johnson testified in support of the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, H.R. 4645, legislation sponsored by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson.

“I have personally led eight trade-related missions to Cuba,” Johnson told the panel. “I can speak from firsthand experience on the importance of ending the Cuban embargo and establishing trade relations with Cuba in an effort to better the U.S. agriculture market.”

Johnson explained that NFU supports the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act and commended Chairman Peterson’s leadership on the bill. He noted that the legislation contains a provision to eliminate “the expensive and discriminatory requirement that payments to U.S. agricultural sellers must pass through banks in other countries.” The bill would allow direct financial transactions for agricultural sales to Cuba; make agricultural exports to Cuba subject to the same payment requirements as exports to other countries; and allow U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba.

“Even though U.S. firms offer reliable trading partners, quality products and competitive prices, current U.S. policy hampers their ability to supply the Cuban market. If the United States is not the supplier, the European Union or Brazil will be happy to take our place,” Johnson said.

Former Secretary of Agriculture John Block referenced NFU’s testimony and indicated full support during his testimony before the panel.

“Since January 2009, 13 bills have been introduced in Congress to ease restrictions on travel, financial transactions or agricultural trade with Cuba,” Johnson said. “Clearly, in this case, politics is blocking good policy decisions.”

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