The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has requested an appropriation of US$1.5 million to provide payments for USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) staffing within the Embassy of the United States in Havana, Republic of Cuba. The request was unanimously approved on 19 May 2016 by the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations; the request requires approval Committee on Appropriations in the United States House of Representatives and then approval by the United States Senate and United States House of Representatives.
From The USDA:
“With the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, USDA requires permanent in-country presence there to effectively carry out the USDA mission and advance U.S. agricultural and national security interests. On May 19, the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a fiscal 2017 appropriations bill that includes $1.5 million to support President Obama’s budget request for USDA staffing in Cuba.”
“In 2017, FAS will conduct its activities and programs through offices in Washington, D.C. and at 94 overseas locations, including Cuba. The overseas offices represent and advocate for U.S. agricultural interests; provide reporting on agricultural policies, production, and trade for more than170 countries; assist U.S. exporters, trade groups, and State export marketing officials in their trade promotion efforts; and help to implement technical assistance and trade capacity building programs that contribute to increased food security. The Budget provides an appropriated funding level of $197 million for FAS activities in 2017, including increased funding for International Cooperative Administrative Support Services, opening an overseas post in Cuba, and pay costs, including for locally employed staff. Agriculture will play an important role as the U.S. and Cuba expand relations, acting as a bridge that can foster cooperation, understanding, and the exchange of ideas. USDA needs an in-country presence in Cuba to cultivate key relationships, gain firsthand knowledge of the country’s agricultural challenges and opportunities, and develop programs of mutual benefit to both countries.”
The USDA has not indicated how the US$1.5 million would be distributed- salaries, housing, transportation, programs, etc.
From The FY 2017 Agriculture Appropriations Bill S. 2956
The Foreign Agricultural Service [FAS] was established March 10, 1953, by Secretary's Memorandum No. 1320, supplement 1. Public Law 83-690, approved August 28, 1954, transferred the agricultural attaches from the Department of State to the Foreign Agricultural Service.
The mission of FAS overseas is to represent U.S. agricultural interests, to promote export of domestic farm products, improve world trade conditions, and report on agricultural production and trade in foreign countries. FAS staff are stationed at 98 offices around the world where they provide expertise in agricultural economics and marketing, as well as provide attache services.
FAS carries out several export assistance programs to counter the adverse effects of unfair trade practices by competitors on U.S. agricultural trade. The Market Access Program [MAP] conducts both generic and brand-identified promotional programs in conjunction with nonprofit agricultural associations and private firms financed through reimbursable CCC payments.
The General Sales Manager was established pursuant to section 5(f) of the charter of the Commodity Credit Corporation and 15 U.S.C. 714-714p. The funds allocated to the General Sales Manager are used for conducting the following programs: (1) CCC Export Credit Guarantee Program (GSM-102), including facilities financing guarantees; (2) Food for Peace; (3) section 416b Overseas Donations Program; (4) Market Access Program; and (5) programs authorized by the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act including barter, export sales of most CCC-owned commodities, export payments, and other programs as assigned to encourage and enhance the export of U.S. agricultural commodities.
The Committee recommends $202,645,000 for the Foreign Agricultural Service, including a direct appropriation of $196,571,000. The Committee recommendation includes $1,500,000, as requested in the budget, to establish an overseas post in Cuba.