Friday, January 13, 2017

U.S. AGRICULTURE GROUPS URGE TRUMP TO STRENGTHEN U.S.-CUBA TRADE RELATIONSHIP

~ National ag coalition encourages new Administration to support American agribusiness by advancing U.S.-Cuba trade relationship ~ WASHINGTON, D.C. - A national coalition of over 100 U.S. agriculture, trade, commerce-related businesses and associations, urged 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 Coalition and USA Rice, also encourages the president-elect to support federal legislation that would allow American farmers and agribusiness to compete in Cuba's import market. Cuba imports up to 80% of its food, which amounts to about $2 billion annually, creating a huge potential export market for American farmers that is only 90 miles off our shores. However, U.S. producers are prohibited from offering private credit for the export of agricultural commodities to Cuba, severely restricting the ability of American farmers to compete in Cuba's growing market. "Your support in removing outdated financing and trade barriers for exporting agricultural products to our island neighbor could significantly strengthen a U.S. industry which supports 17 million jobs across the country, and can provide the Cuban people with high-quality American-grown food," the organizations wrote. "As a broad cross-section of rural America, we urge you not to take steps to reverse progress made in normalizing relations with Cuba, and also solicit your support for the agricultural business sector to expand trade with Cuba to help American farmers and our associated industries. It’s time to put the 17 million American jobs associated with agriculture ahead of a few hardline politicians in Washington." More information on Cuba's agriculture import market and federal legislation is available here. Full text of the letter is available here and below: January 12, 2017 President-elect Donald J. Trump 725 5th Avenue New York, NY 10022 Dear President-elect Trump, Congratulations on your successful campaign. On behalf of the undersigned U.S. agriculture, trade, commerce-related businesses and associations, we urge you to continue to show your support for American agriculture by advancing the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba and building on the progress that has already been made. Net farm income is down 46 percent from just three years ago, constituting the largest three-year drop since the start of the Great Depression. This strain on the farm economy is felt across all sectors of the industry and the thousands of small communities that make up rural America. The importance of trade to America’s farmers and ranchers cannot be overstated. The share of U.S. agricultural production exported overseas is 20 percent by volume, with some sectors being much higher. For example, exports account for over 70 percent of U.S. production of tree nuts and cotton, over 60 percent of soybeans, and over 50 percent of rice and wheat. Positive farm income throughout America would not be possible without increasing access to foreign markets, like Cuba. Mr. President-elect, as an international business icon, you understand how difficult it is to be competitive without the ability to extend credit to your customers. We need the Administration’s support for legislation that would remove these arbitrary and archaic restrictions on extending credit for the purchase of agricultural commodities and equipment. Your support in removing outdated financing and trade barriers for exporting agricultural products and equipment to our island neighbor could significantly strengthen a U.S. industry which supports 17 million jobs across the country, and can provide the Cuban people with high-quality American-grown food. Cuba imports nearly 80 percent of its food to feed a population of 11 million people and upwards of three million tourists annually. Cuba’s $2 billion agriculture import market could provide tremendous benefits for farmers across the country and help American agribusiness offset recent losses. In addition to the size of the Cuban market, its proximity to U.S. ports allows for considerably lower shipping costs and shorter delivery times than our foreign competitors. The logistical advantages alone should make Cuba a common-sense partner for two-way commerce. Instead, the federal government overreach has put American farmers at a global disadvantage. U.S. agriculture continues to lose out to our foreign competitors and our net sales have been steadily declining since 2009. As result of trade restrictions, the U.S. has fallen from its position as the number one supplier of agricultural products from 2003 to 2012, to now the number five supplier after the European Union, Brazil, Argentina, and Vietnam. The U.S. needs to be number one again. Especially given many of Cuba’s imports, including rice, poultry, dairy, soy, wheat, and corn make up more than 70 percent of what they import and they’re all grown right here in the U.S. by hardworking American farmers. As a broad cross-section of rural America, we urge you not to take steps to reverse progress made in normalizing relations with Cuba, and also solicit your support for the agricultural business sector to expand trade with Cuba to help American farmers and our associated industries. It’s time to put the 17 million American jobs associated with agriculture ahead of a few hardline politicians in Washington. We look forward to working closely with you and your team, and please let us know if we can provide any assistance moving forward. Sincerely, National Organizations American Farm Bureau Federation American Feed Industry Association American Pulse Association American Seed Trade Association American Soybean Association Corn Refiners Association Independent Professional Seed Association Livestock Exporters Association of the USA National Association of Wheat Growers National Barley Growers Association National Corn Growers Association National Council of Farmer Cooperatives National Farmers Union National Foreign Trade Council National Oilseed Processors Association National Potato Council National Turkey Federation Navajo Agricultural Products Industry North American Millers Association Rural & Agriculture Council of America U.S. Cattlemen's Association U.S. Cava Exports U.S. Dry Bean Council U.S. Wheat Associates USA Dry Pea and Lentil Council USA Poultry & Egg Export Council USA Rice Agribusiness Organizations AGCO Amerex Corporation Bibler Brothers Lumber and Construction Campbell Farms Carnes Farms, Inc. Clark AG Company Claxton Poultry ETW Enterprises, Inc. Shavings & Rice Hulls Falcon Rice Mill Farmers Rice Milling Co. Gulf Wise Commerce Hormel Foods Corporation Kennedy Rice Mill, LLC/Planters Rice Mill, LLC Koenig Vineyards Louisiana Rice Milling Company Mannco Fertilizer Martin Rice Company Newcomb Farms Poinsett Rice & Grain Producers Rice Mill Riceland Foods RiceTec, Inc Riviana Foods – American Rice, Inc Sandy Ridge Cotton Company Simmons Foods Sturman's Smokeshop Texas Rice Belt Warehouse, Inc TRC Trading Corporation State Organizations Alabama Farmers Federation Alabama Poultry Association Argicultural Council of Arkansas Arkansas Farm Bureau Arkansas Rice Council Arkansas Rice Federation California Rice Commission Central Louisiana Rice Growers Association Colorado Farm Bureau Colorado Pork Producers Council Georgia Farm Bureau Idaho Grain Producers Association Idaho Potato Commission Illinois Farm Bureau Illinois Soybean Association Illinois Soybean Growers Iowa Corn Growers Association Iowa Farm Bureau Federation Iowa Institute for Cooperatives Iowa Soybean Association Kansas Association of Wheat Growers Kansas Corn Growers Association Kansas Farm Bureau Kansas Livestock Association Kansas Soybean Association Kansas Wheat Commission Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation Louisiana Rice Growers Association Louisiana Rice Producer's Group Michigan Agri-Business Association Michigan Bean Shippers Michigan Soybean Association Minnesota Barley Council Minnesota Farm Bureau Minnesota Farmers Union Minnesota Grain and Feed Association Minnesota Turkey Growers Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Mississippi Poultry Association Missouri Farm Bureau New Mexico Cattle Growers Association New Mexico Wine and Grape Growers Association Northeast Louisiana Rice Growers Association Ohio Agribusiness Association Ohio Corn & Soy Texas Farm Bureau Texas Grain Sorghum Producers Texas Rice Producers Legislative Group

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