Cuba has become a near and dear topic for me since visiting the country a few months ago with fellow ag media. The people of Cuba are eager to normalize relations with their big neighbor to the North opening trade and opportunities for U.S. agriculture. During the 2017 American Farm Bureau Federation’s Annual Convention & IDEAg Trade Show experts gathered to share what this could mean for American farmers and ranchers’ bottom lines.
Dr. Steven Zahniser, an economist at the Agriculture Department’s Economic Research Service, said growth in U.S. agricultural trade with Cuba remains limited, with credit restrictions putting our products at a disadvantage.
“Normalized trade with Cuba could bring an increase of $1 billion per year in agriculture exports, compared with the estimated $195 million in sales of agriculture products from the U.S. to Cuba in 2016,” said Zahniser.
Marri Carrow, Western Hemisphere regional director for the U.S. Grains Council, said grain markets across Central America, and in Cuba specifically, are poised for growth after a couple rough economic years across the region.
“If we were to capture 100% of the Cuban market share for corn, they would be our 12th largest export market for corn globally,” said Carrow. “It’s not a small market—it’s not exactly big either—but it’s sizable and right in our backyard.”
Carrow said a return to our former market share in Cuba will depend on improved trade relations and removing the current credit restrictions. “Until we see those changes, we really have our hands tied when it comes to agricultural trade there.”
Listen to their complete remarks here: U.S. & Cuba Trade Workshop
View and download photos from the event here: 2017 AFBF Annual Meeting Photos