Congressman Jerry Moran introduced legislation this week with Congressman Collin Peterson, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, to expand agricultural trade with Cuba. H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2010, reduces trade barriers on American farmers and ranchers.
"Current U.S. trade policies hurt American farmers and ranchers by making it more expensive for Cuba to purchase agriculture products from the United States," Moran said. "Instead, Cuba is buying its food from other countries less friendly to the U.S. By standardizing our trade policies, we will increase export sales and support thousands of American jobs. I have long fought for common sense reforms to our trade policy with Cuba, and I am glad to partner with Chairman Peterson on this important legislation."
In 2000, the passage of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA), allowed for the cash sales of American agriculture products to Cuba for the first time in 38 years. However, in 2005, the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued burdensome regulations, requiring Cubans to pay for their goods before ships left U.S. ports -- a requirement unique to Cuba. This change made it difficult for American farmers and ranchers to sell their products, and caused a significant decline in agricultural exports to Cuba. H.R. 4645 supports American farmers and ranchers by making cash payments due when a Cuban buyer receives their goods, which is the standard trading practice.
H.R. 4645 eliminates another trade barrier by allowing direct cash payments from a Cuban buyer to a U.S. financial institution. Under current rules, Cuban buyers must send their payments through foreign banks before the funds can be transferred to U.S. banks. This unnecessary step increases the price of American goods, which makes American products less competitive. By allowing direct cash payments, Moran's legislation enables American companies to compete on a level playing field and fuel economic growth.
H.R. 4645 will also allow U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba. By eliminating bureaucratic red tape related to travel, this legislation will allow American farmers and ranchers to market and sell their goods more competitively within Cuba.
Moran is a senior member of the House Agriculture Committee.