What is known as the “Farm Bill” is revisited by the United States Congress every five (5) years.
During the last twenty-six (26) years, there have been three (3) Republic of Cuba-focused legislative initiatives that have become law: 1992 Cuban Democracy Act (CDA), 1996 Libertad Act (“Helms-Burton”) and 2000 Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA). For perspective, it’s been eighteen (18) years or 6,400+ days since the last Republic of Cuba-focused legislative initiative became law.
On 18 June 2018, the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry reported, on a vote of 20-1, S. 3042, the 1,210-page The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 which included an amendment [Link To Text] authored by The Honorable Heidi Heitkamp (D- North Dakota): “To provide for the use of market access program and foreign market development cooperator program funds in Cuba.” The United States Senate has scheduled a vote on 3042 for 26 June 2018.
A representative of a member of the United States Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry shared “[t]here is no set amount of funds that would be made available specifically for Cuba. The amendment would only allow producers and agricultural trade associations who are already utilizing these programs to also use them to promote their goods in Cuba. So to that point, yes these funds are only going towards agriculture producers who are represented by trade associations and state regional trade groups.”
On 21 June 2018, the United States House of Representatives passed H.R. 2, the 748-page Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 by a vote of 213-211. H.R. 2 has no provision similar to the amendment in S. 3042.
For Fiscal Year 2018, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) allocated US$26,484,947.00 in taxpayer funds to twenty-three (23) cooperators under the Foreign Market Development Program (FMD), an average of US$1,021,084.00 per distribution.
For Fiscal Year 2018, the USDA allocated US$173,802,447.00 in taxpayer funds to sixty-six (66) participants under the Market Access Program (MAP), an average of US$2,633,370.00 per distribution.
NOTE: Since 2000, when the TSREEA re-authorized the direct export of food product and agricultural commodities from the United States to the Republic of Cuba, more than US$5.6 billion in food products and agricultural commodities have been delivered to the Republic of Cuba on a “cash in advance” basis as required by the TSREEA. Thus far in 2018, TSREEA-authorized exports have increased 25% compared to the same period in 2017. The government of the Republic of Cuba maintains that prohibition on payment terms and financing are the primary impediments to increasing purchases.