COCHRAN COSPONSORS BILL TO EXPAND AG EXPORTS TO CUBA
Bipartisan Bill Would Lift Private Financing Restrictions on U.S. Agriculture Exports to Cuba
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today threw his support behind a new effort to help create more export opportunities to Mississippi famers by lifting a U.S. restriction on private financing for American agricultural exports to Cuba.
Cochran is an original cosponsor on the Agricultural Export Expansion Act, which would eliminate the prohibition against providing private credit to finance agriculture sales to Cuba. Current law only allows upfront cash payments to finance such exports, effectively blocking American farmers from the Cuban market.
“Lifting the private financing restriction on agriculture exports is a step in the process to normalize U.S. agricultural ties with Cuba. Removing this barrier would help open the door for more Mississippi rice and other agriculture exports,” Cochran said. “I hope this bipartisan legislation will be approved as the Congress and administration look for ways to improve our economy.”
The bill, introduced by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.), would allow banks and companies to finance the sale of American agricultural commodities to persons or entities in Cuba. The statutory restrictions on financing of these products remain in place despite the former Obama administration last year acting to remove restrictions on non-agricultural products.
Cochran’s support for this legislation is based on a desire to expand markets for Mississippi agriculture products. Agriculture is a $7.6 billion industry in Mississippi and supports approximately 29 percent of the state’s workforce. In 2013, agriculture exports totaled an estimated $2.3 billion, with soybeans, broilers, and cotton being the leading exports.
Cochran, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, cosponsored similar stand-alone legislation in the 114th Congress.