It has been near unanimous approval of President Obama’s move toward normalized relations with Cuba by major farm and commodity organizations. Several issued positive statements about the outlook for increased agricultural exports to the island nation.

“Farm Bureau has long called for a removal of trade restrictions with Cuba, and we believe expanded trade with the U.S. can serve as a cornerstone for additional reforms,” said Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation.

“We anticipate that these re-established trade relations will help open a market for U.S. wheat product in Cuba,” according to the National Association of Wheat Growers.

Soybean growers are particularly excited about the announcement, “specifically because of the promise that the Cuban marketplace holds for American beans, but also in the larger scope of trade’s ability to overcome even the most challenging geopolitical barriers,” noted Wade Cown, president of the American Soybean Association.  

“Since the mid-90s USA Rice has taken leadership among commodity groups in calling for an end to the economic and travel embargo on Cuba,” said Betsy Ward, president and CEO of the USA Rice Federation. She praised the president’s announcement but wasn’t ready to suggest the change in trade will come easy.

Stallman spoke about the financing and payment limitations that have been in place against ag trade with Cuba. “Right now, U.S. farmers can export to Cuba, but third-party banking requirements and limited credit financing make it harder to complete in the market than it should be. We look forward to a prompt lifting of those restrictions.”

USA Rice Federation sees a big market for rice in the nation of about 11 million consumers, but also wants immediate attention to financials in trade actions.

“The changes to banking are very important because they significantly reduce red tape and costs association with doing business with Cuba,” Ward said.

Ward further suggested that the U.S. rice industry has maintained that the “embargo was not on Cuba, as they could source rice and other products from around the world, but rather on the rice growers in the U.S., whose own government cut them out of one of the world’s top markets, just 90 miles from our shores.”