As part of President Obama's historic trip to Cuba to further normalization of relations, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced several measures that will foster further collaboration between the U.S. and Cuban agriculture sectors.
While in Cuba, Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA will allow the 22 industry-funded Research and Promotion Programs and 18 Marketing Order organizations to conduct authorized research and information exchange activities with Cuba.
During their bilateral meeting, Secretary Vilsack and Cuban Minister of Agriculture Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero will sign a Memorandum of Understanding that establishes a framework for sharing ideas and research between the two countries. Secretary Vilsack also has invited Minister Rodriguez to join on a visit to one of USDA's Climate Sub Hubs in Puerto Rico in late May, where USDA researchers are studying the effects of climate change in the subtropical region and strategies for mitigating these effects.
While most U.S. commercial activities are prohibited, the Trade Sanctions Reform Act (TSRA) of 2000 permits the export of U.S. agricultural commodities, though U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba are limited by U.S. restrictions on government export assistance, cash payments, and extending credit. U.S. agricultural exports have grown significantly since trade was authorized in 2000. In 2014, Cuba imported over $2 billion in agricultural products including $300 million from the United States. However, from 2014 to 2015, U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba fell 48 percent to $148.9 million, the lowest since 2002, giving the United States just a 10 percent market share as Cuba's fourth largest agricultural supplier, behind the EU, Brazil, and Argentina.
This historic visit to Cuba is the first by a sitting U.S. President in nearly 90 years. It is Secretary Vilsack's second visit and is another demonstration of the President's commitment to chart a new course for U.S.-Cuban relations and connect U.S. and Cuban citizens through expanded travel, commerce, and access to information.
Monday, March 21, 2016/ USDA/ United States.