Cuban Trade Expanding, But Few Utilizing “Free Money”

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

HAVANA, CUBA – While exports of most U.S. agricultural commodities to other countries have been soaring in 2021, one nation stands out in their demand for ag and food products – especially for chicken, soybeans, and corn chips.

According to the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, the communist island nation has seen imports of U.S. agricultural products increase 26 percent in September, and nearly 80 percent year over year.

John Kavulich is President of the Council and explains that U.S. exports in September totaled $20 million and were primarily focused on chicken leg quarters, chicken meat, chicken legs, soybeans, wood pulp, olive oil, coffee, and corn chips.

Ironically, a government program that helps domestic exporters find a buyer for their products – USDA’s Foreign Market Development (FMD) and Market Access Program (MAP) funding – has been requested only 11 times since being authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Kavulich explains that only once (in 2020) has an entity requested matching funds under the USDA FMD program, and the funds were never used. For MAP, there have been 4 requests in 2020 and 3 in 2021, but only once each year are the funds actually utilized. There have been three applications for 2022, but again no funds were used in promoting U.S. agricultural products to Cuba. He also notes that not once has an existing regional program asked to add Cuba to their list of promotional destinations. The only group that has used the funding since 2018 is Potatoes USA.
(SOURCE: All Ag News)

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