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7 June 2014 - It’s Time to End the Cuban Embargo

A few days ago, a story headlined ‘Cuba experiments with wholesale market for farmers’ caught my attention. The story dealt with the fact that the Cuban Communist government is doing a little more liberalizing of its policy that affects Cuban farmers.

Even though the farming sector has been the most liberalized, Cuba continues to import more than 60 percent of its food, in part because farmers still depend on state-run allocation and distribution of subsidized supplies. Very little of that food that is imported comes from American farmers and ranchers.

As much as Cuban consumers would love Texas long-grain rice or beef from America, or dairy farmers in Cuba would like to import Holstein breeding stock from the United States, they can’t, because of a trade embargo that we placed on Cuba back in 1962. At that time, President John F. Kennedy, during the Cuban missile crisis, said . . . ”we’ll bring Cuba to its knees, we’ll force Fidel Castro out of office and restore democracy, we simply won’t trade with him and he will not be able to get many of the goods they need from the United States.” Well, that was 1962 . . . we are now in 2014. Fidel Castro is still there, his brother Raul Castro is running the government that is still Communist and we are still not allowed to sell them much, if anything. We can only sell agricultural products if they pay cash up front.

If you control the entire source of a product, then an embargo maybe could work. But Cuba is able to purchase poultry and pork from France, wheat from Canada, rice from Viet Nam, soybeans from Brazil and all of the other food items they need from other countries, even though their consumers would like the quality food products that the U.S. farmer and rancher could provide to them.

This is an embargo that never made sense, and makes even less sense today. Cuba is not a large market, compared to some of our other customers, but it would provide American food producers with one more market for their products. It is time for Congress to put an end to it and allow free trade with that island nation, 90 miles from our coast.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.