by Ken Root
The election of Donald Trump as the next President may mean lifting the Cuba trade embargo may have to wait years, per one U.S. Ag expert.
Easing of U.S. restrictions on Ag trade with Cuba came in baby steps during the Obama years, but not enough steps to extend bank financing to Cuba to buy U.S. Ag commodities.
Former House Ag staff director Rob Larew, now at the National Farmers Union, doubts President-elect Trump’s administration will be quick to fully lift the decades old Cuba trade embargo. “I think you often see changes with whatever administration is coming in. I think this one there is not much appetite for what’s being said for the lifting of the embargo,” he said.
Larew concedes the new president could roll back some of President Obama’s unilateral trade and travel reforms, but maybe not all of them, including for shipping and credit which is key for agriculture. Larew said, “We are hoping that normalization for relations has already occurred and hopefully will keep us there in the not too distant future. We will see finally a lifting of the embargo.”
That fight will likely take a back seat to the more immediate one on rescinding some Obama actions on Cuba, opposed by anti-Castro forces in and out of Congress.
The good news is that President-elect Trump seemed to be more directed at multi-lateral trade deals, possibly enforcing greater reliance on bi-lateral efforts to boost trade.
Senator Jerry Moran has been asked to discuss being the next U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Moran is highly respected in Kansas and served as U.S. representative from the big first district of western Kansas.
Another Kansan, Mike Torre, has resigned from the transition team citing the requirement to suspend all lobbying activity for five years. Torre, a farm kid who went to Washington, D.C. has a thriving lobbying business that would be impacted by further involvement with the Trump transition or presidency.