Agribusiness Report: Farm Sales To Cuba Increased Without Embargo Lift

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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) - With the President's historic visit to Cuba this week and his proposal to end the U.S.-Cuba trade embargo comes some benefits to agriculture.

There is the possibility of increased trade of agricultural goods, which farm groups like the American Farm Bureau are pushing for.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley isn't buying into the efforts to normalize relations and he's less interested in ending the trade embargo, even if it means more ag sales to Cuba. He says in the give and take part, Cuba is more on the taking end.

And even without an end to the embargo, he says farm sales to Cuba have increased, "There's already a provisions that have even been liberalized beyond what they've been through maybe ten years for agricultural foods to go there along with medicine, pharmaceuticals, medicinal things. So I don't know whether we have to be so concerned just for agriculture."

The American Farm Bureau argues until the embargo is lifted, full trade cannot be restored because of direct banking relations.

And election year politics, combined with strong opposition from Cuban-American lawmakers, are keeping bipartisan legislation ending the embargo from advancing.

Meanwhile, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is expressing support and optimism for new opportunities in Cuba. Vilsack announced Research and Promotion Programs and Marketing Order organizations may conduct research and information sharing with Cuba. They represent U.S. beef, pork, corn, soy and other commodities and are responsible for creating bonds with consumers and businesses from around the world