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Ag Research Agreement Reached Between US and Cuba
March 22, 2016

The US and Cuba are signing an agreement to share agriculture and food research and ideas. Ag Secretary Vilsack and Cuba’s Minster of Agriculture will sign a Memorandum of Understanding today as part of President Obama’s trade mission that started Sunday.

The Illinois Soybean Association says it will mean checkoff funds will be available for this purpose. Daryl Cates, Illinois Soy chairman (from Columbia, Illinois) who visited Cuba as part of a bi-partisan delegation last fall, says “Cuba is an important market for Illinois soybean farmers and the livestock producers who use (their) soybeans.” Cates says it’s vital the US and Cuba collaborate and advance two-way trade. He says the U.S. faces increasing competition from South America and other countries in Cuba.

President Obama says this week’s visit to Cuba has the two countries working to create more opportunities for trade,  “We’re working to allow the US dollar to be used more widely with Cuba,” he says.  “Giving Cubans more access to the dollar in international transactions, allowing the Cubans in the US to earn salaries. These things will do more to create opportunities for trade and joint ventures.”

The President says with just 90 miles between Cuba and the United States the two countries should be natural trading partners.

He says the work being done will benefit American agriculture.  “With this visit, we’ve agreed to deepen our cooperation of agriculture to support our farmers,” he says.  “This afternoon I will highlight some of the new commercial deals being announced by major US companies.”

The President says the embargo will end but he just doesn’t know when.  He says the work that is going on now should go beyond his administration.  “We build on the work we’re doing in agriculture,” he says.  “And you start seeing more US farmers interacting with Cuban farmers.  And then there are more exports than imports – and that builds a constituency and the possibility of ending the embargo increases.”

President Obama’s visit marks the first visit to Cuba by a sitting US President since Calvin Coolidge in 1928.  Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is part of the bipartisan delegation on the President’s trip this week.

By: Julie Harker
Source: Brownfield Ag News for America


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