A Cuba amendment to lift restrictions on private financing of U.S. farm sales to Havana sparked emotional debate as the House passed a series of agency spending bills the Senate must still consider.
Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib offered the amendment to the FY 2023 USDA spending bill, arguing it would ease the suffering of starving Cubans.
â€œMy amendment, our amendment, would provide temporary relief to them, as well as U.S. farm exporters by suspending for one year the prohibiting and extending credit to Cuban food buyers.â€
Tlaib claims that will also help U.S. growers. â€œThe amendment would also help American ag producers, as well, by removing trade barriers that put them at a competitive disadvantage with countries thousands of miles away, like China and Vietnam.â€
But the American Farm Bureau and other ag groups that argued for private financing of ag sales years ago did not take a position on the rider, which was ultimately defeated after Democrats like Debbie Wasserman-Shultz joined Republicans in opposition.
â€œThe current â€˜cash-in-advanceâ€™ requirement for the financing of agricultural exports to Cuba ensures that the regime in Cuba cannot benefit from loans or credit, and that its corrupt military-run financial institutions are not intertwined with American institutions. Please, anyone within the sound of my voice needs to understand that this amendment allows U.S. persons to invest in Cuban agricultural businesses.â€
Even if those businesses are involved in trafficking confiscated goods or controlled by the Cuban government or military. U.S. farm sales to Cuba have fallen from about $700 million a year in the late 2000s to only about $200 million in recent years.