Texas Ag Benefits from Normalized U.S.-Cuba Relations, Says Expert

    Efforts to normalize U.S. and Cuba diplomatic relations will have potential positive implications for Texas agriculture, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service economist.

    Dr. Parr Rosson, who heads the agricultural economics department at Texas A&M University in College Station, said there will be immediate increases in the amount of U.S. food exported to Cuba.

    “Within a year to two years, we should see U.S. exports to Cuba return to the $400 million to $450 million range.

    “The combination of allowing up to a four-fold increase in remittances along with an increased role for U.S. banks may lead to a 15 to 30 percent increase in U.S. food exports,” Rosson said.

    Currently, Cuban-Americans and others are limited to remittance of no more than $500 per quarter to persons in Cuba. Rosson said under the new program, that limit would increase to $2,000.

    Texas supplies Cuba with several export items, including chicken leg quarters and corn. Pork, cotton and dairy products produced in Texas are also exported there. More rice exports are also expected. A growing tourism market in Cuba has also sparked demand for items such as condiments, bottled water, beer, wine and spirits.

    “These are products that we are seeing more interest in due to the growing tourism market in Cuba.”

    Rosson said in addition to allowing U.S. and other travelers to use credit cards, this will boost demand for foods.

    “Also expect to see the market for used agricultural equipment to increase,” Rosson said.

    Workshops have previously been conducted to assist educating producers on export trade with Cuba, partnering with the Texas-Cuba Trade Alliance and Free Trade Alliance, he said.

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