Ohio farmers don’t often have the chance to visit with the ambassador of a key trading partner. However, Ohio Farm Bureau members did just that when Cuban Ambassador to the United States, José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez visited Ohio Farm Bureau recently.
The topic of conversation? Why American farmers are losing market share in Cuba.
Cuba is highly dependent on imports to feed its population of 11 million people and over 3.5 million annual visitors. In fact, Cuba imports between 60 percent and 80 percent of its food, which amounts to about $2 billion annually.
Yet, Cuban imports of U.S. agricultural products have plummeted from a peak of $701 million in 2008 to just $285 million in 2014.
During the meeting with the ambassador, farmers affirmed their commitment to serve as a ready and able trading partner with the island nation.
Rodríguez stressed the importance of making certain changes to U.S. trade restrictions, particularly allowing Cuban importers to utilize credit financing to purchase U.S. agricultural goods. Currently, U.S. regulations allow only for cash transactions, giving U.S. competitors a significant competitive advantage.
Farm Bureau is supporting legislation to make such a change.
All participants agreed the meeting was a unique and valuable opportunity to share perspectives that might help shape relations between the two countries in the future.
Improving agricultural trade between the U.S. and Cuba is a win win for both countries by enhancing a market for U.S. products and giving the Cuban people access to the goods they need.
Caption: Cuban Ambassador to the United States, José Ramón Cabañas Rodríguez, right, and OFBF Executive Vice President, Adam Sharp