The Senate Agriculture Committee held a hearing April 21 to examine opportunities and challenges for agricultural trade with Cuba. Witness testimony and other documents are available online.
Michael Scuse, USDA under secretary for farm and foreign agricultural service, told the committee that less burdensome payment requirements for agricultural transactions should help the United States recover some of the market share it has been losing in Cuba. U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba reached $658 million in Fiscal Year 2008, but fell to only $300 million last year. Meanwhile, global agricultural exports to Cuba have doubled over the past decade to $1.7 billion annually.
Scuse also noted, however, that some major obstacles remain in place that are holding back U.S. agricultural trade with Cuba. He specifically cited the prohibition blocking any type of government export assistance – including use of USDA Market Access Program funding and Foreign Market Development funding – from being used to promote U.S. products in Cuba.