President Trump Mentions Cuba When Signing Farm Bill.... And It Wasn't Positive

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (H.R. 2) is valued at US$867 billion, to be expended during a five-year period; the document is more than 600 pages.

Yet The White House, when issuing a two-paragraph statement by the President of the United States, determined important to mention a provision within H.R. 2 which relates to the Republic of Cuba.

The background to the insertion of mention of the Republic of Cuba is relevant for those who believe there is a “pathway forward” and momentum for the 116th Congress in 2019 to pass legislation that will further expand the commercial relationship between the United States and the Republic of Cuba; specifically, authorizing the provision of payment terms and financing for agricultural and food product exports from the United States to the Republic of Cuba.

For the statement about the Republic of Cuba to be inserted into a public document relating to a bill signing, it would likely have been specifically requested by the National Security Council (NSC) and Office of Legislative Affairs; and perhaps at the request of a Member of the United States Congress.

So, advocates need be sober and appreciate the peril arising from believing that after A will automatically come B. The last B took eighteen years to follow A.

Office of the Press Secretary

December 20, 2018


Today, I have signed into law H.R. 2, the "Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018" (the "Act").  Section 12303 of the Act requires the Secretary of Agriculture (Secretary) to establish a Tribal Advisory Committee (Committee), predominantly composed of individuals appointed by Members of Congress, to advise the Secretary on matters relating to tribal and Indian affairs.  My Administration supports the policy aims of this Committee.  Because it includes legislative branch appointees, however, the Committee cannot be located in the executive branch, consistent with the separation of powers.  I will therefore instruct the Secretary not to establish this Committee.  I will, however, instruct the Secretary to work with the Congress to revise section 12303 to permit a properly constituted committee to be established within the Department of Agriculture to perform similar functions.  My Administration will also take additional steps to further develop and advance its important relationships with tribal leaders.
In addition, section 3201 permits the Department of Agriculture to use funds to carry out certain programs in Cuba.  The Act prohibits such funds from being used in contravention of the policy outlined in National Security Presidential Memorandum 5 of June 16, 2017, (Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba).  I appreciate the recognition of the Congress that these funds must not be used to undermine the foreign policy of the United States with respect to Cuba.  As such, my Administration will not use any taxpayer funds from these Department of Agriculture programs to benefit the Cuban regime.