May 16, 2019
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) joined a bipartisan group of Senators in introducing the Agricultural Export Expansion Act of 2019, legislation to remove a major hurdle for American farmers and ranchers aiming to sell American agricultural products in the Cuban market. The bipartisan bill would support jobs throughout the country by lifting restrictions on private financing for U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba.
“Our agriculture industry is an integral part of our economy and continues to be the driver of countless rural communities in Maine and across our country,” said Senators Collins and King in a joint statement. “This bill would support the agriculture industry by leveling the playing field for American farmers to open up a significant new export opportunity, without costing the government any money or risking any taxpayer dollars.”
The 2018 Farm Bill, for which Senators Collins and King advocated, took steps to help American agriculture access the Cuban market by allowing funding for U.S. Department of Agriculture export promotion programs for U.S. agricultural products to be used in Cuba. However, the biggest barrier for producers as they seek access to Cuba is the Trade Sanctions and Reform Act (TSRA) prohibition on providing private credit for those exports, which forces Cubans to pay with cash up front for American-grown food. As a result, American farm goods have become less competitive, and Cuba has turned to other countries that are able to extend credit directly to Cuban buyers for transactions. This bill would amend the TSRA to allow for private financing of agricultural exports and level the playing field for American farmers competing in the global market.
In addition to Senators Collins and King, the bill was introduced by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Boozman (R-AR), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), and John Hoeven (R-ND).
The bill text is available HERE.