Source: American Farm Bureau Federation

April 14 statement by Bob Stallman, president, American Farm Bureau Federation, regarding administration easing Cuba restrictions:

"The White House's decision this week to ease travel for Cuban Americans and relax financial restrictions to Cuba is one step closer to easing all trade restrictions with the country. We are very encouraged by President Obama's actions and appreciate the administration's prompt action on the issue. In this step-by-step process, the Farm Bureau would also like the administration to consider agriculture provisions.

"U.S. agricultural sales to Cuba have been on average $400 million annually since 2000, with top commodity sales including poultry, wheat, soybeans, rice and dairy. With expanded trade to the country, we expect agriculture sales to increase to more than $1 billion annually.

"Current language in the omnibus appropriations bill aids U.S. agriculture by allowing travel on a general license for those making agricultural sales to Cuba rather than the specific license currently needed. This would ease delays that significantly impact the ability to transact commercial sales with Cuba, which in some cases, have been lost to U.S. competitors because of the restriction.

"Other priorities for AFBF in regard to Cuba include commercially defining 'cash payments in advance' as intended by Congress in the 2000 Trade Sanctions and Reform Act; allowing the country to directly wire payment to U.S. banks instead of going through a third-country bank as it does now; and issuing visas for Cuban inspectors to travel to the U.S. to meet with suppliers, inspect facilities and verify procedures and standards associated with the sale of U.S. food and agricultural exports to Cuba."