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Agricultural News

U.S. Ag Secretary Vilsack Requests Funding to Open Office in Cuba in FY 2017 Budget

Wed, 10 Feb 2016 16:12:10 CST

U.S. Ag Secretary Vilsack Requests Funding to Open Office in Cuba in FY 2017 Budget U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the United States should open an agricultural office in Cuba and hopes to find funding through the 2017 agriculture appropriations bill. Vilsack said the goal was to alert Congress on the expanded trade opportunities in Cuba. Today, 80 percent of Cuba’s food is imported. In the past the U.S. supplied about half, but today that figure is significantly less because of the trade embargo and how credit is managed. Vilsack also points to the fact that the U.S. doesn’t have a presence in Cuba to work through difficulties that arise in any trading relationship.

“We believe that having people in Cuba would help facilitate opportunities now and in the future, would prepare us for a very robust effort when the embargo is lifted,” Vilsack said.

As part of budget request materials released Tuesday, USDA said the agency needs an in-country presence to cultivate key relationships, gain firsthand knowledge of the country’s agricultural challenges and opportunities and develop programs for the mutual benefit of both countries. Vilsack said he believes its important Congress considers this proposal, as they believe there is a broad base of support within the agricultural community for expanded trade opportunities.

Vilsack said this is a key measure included in the President’s proposed agriculture budget. He didn’t think USDA had the authority to use existing resources within the budget to fund personnel. That’s why USDA is asking for this funding through the appropriations process.

Below is Secretary Tom Vilsack’s comments on the proposal to open an office in Cuba. Click or tap on the LISTEN BAR below to listen to his remarks.

Radio Oklahoma Ag Network Farm Director Ron Hays participated in that USDA Budget Briefing for reporters on Tuesday. You can listen to the overview offered to reporters by Secretary Vilsack, by clicking here.

U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack's comments on opening an office in Cuba
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