Nearly two decades ago, Congress exempted food and agricultural goods from the U.S. trade embargo on Cuba, opening the way for modest exports to the island. The 2000 law would be somewhat of a shield for those sales when President Trump realigns U.S. policy toward Havana, scheduled in Miami on Friday.
The United States and Cuba, adversaries since the 1960s, agreed to cooperate in improving food production and conserving natural resources as part of President Obama's visit to Havana.
The United States can show its leadership in the world and reap benefits for itself through cooperative action, President Obama said in his final State of the Union speech. During the hour-long address, he asked Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific free-trade agreement and to end the half-century trade embargo on Cuba.
While U.S. farm groups see Cuba as a natural, nearby market for exports, growers in Florida worry that Cuba will be a competitor in agriculture, says the Miami Herald. Janell Hendren of the Florida Farm Bureau told the Herald, "You can't lift the [trade] embargo without increasing imports from Cuba to the United States. And we are very concerned with imports." Agricultural economist William Messina at U-Florida says Cuba and Florida grow many of the same products - sugar, citrus, vegetables, tropical fruit and fish.
Six senators introduced a bill, dubbed the Freedom to Export to Cuba Act, to end the decades-old trade embargo with Cuba. "It is time to turn the page on our Cuba policy," said lead sponsor Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.