H.E. Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero, Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Cuba, visited the United States from 1 June 2016 to 3 June 2016. He traveled to Washington, DC, and to Iowa, where he accompanied The Honorable Thomas Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to Host Cuban Agriculture Minister, Delegation in Iowa
Des Moines, June 3, 2016 – FRIDAY, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will host Cuban Minister of Agriculture Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero and a delegation of Cuban officials in Iowa. Since President Obama announced that the United States would resume diplomatic ties with Cuba, Secretary Vilsack has traveled twice to the island and will now welcome the Cuban minister to the U.S. for a tour of Iowa’s diverse farms, agribusinesses, and research facilities. Vilsack will hold a press availability at Aaron Heley Lehman’s Family Farm in Polk City, Iowa on Friday morning.
Both President Obama and Secretary Vilsack have recognized that food and agriculture can serve as a bridge to foster collaboration between the two countries, and both Cuban and American farmers and ranchers have expressed interest in expanding commercial opportunities. To strengthen this bridge, on his second trip to Cuba in March, Vilsack signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Minister Rodriguez that establishes a framework for sharing ideas and research between the two countries. In addition, Vilsack announced that USDA will allow the 22 industry-funded Research and Promotion Programs and 18 Marketing Order organizations to engage in cooperative research and information exchanges with Cuba about agricultural productivity, food security and sustainable natural resource management.
While most U.S. commercial activities are prohibited, the Trade Sanctions Reform Act (TSRA) of 2000 permits the export of U.S. agricultural commodities, though U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba are limited by U.S. restrictions on government export assistance, cash payments, and extending credit. U.S. agricultural exports have grown significantly since trade was authorized in 2000. In 2014, Cuba imported over $2 billion in agricultural products including $300 million from the United States. However, from 2014 to 2015, U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba fell 48 percent to $148.9 million, the lowest since 2002, giving the United States just a 10 percent market share as Cuba's fourth largest agricultural supplier, behind the EU, Brazil, and Argentina.