A Farm Bureau Revelation

Saturday, May 9, 2009
From the Springfield State-Journal:
 
Even if human-rights issues were settled and trade barriers taken down, buying and selling in Cuba is not a simple matter of transportation, says Illinois Farm Bureau president Phil Nelson.
 
"They are still using farm practices from the 1950s. It's very primitive, and there's not a lot of technology, even though it's 90 miles from our shores," Nelson said.
 
The farm bureau has been among the leading advocates of easing trade restrictions with Cuba, including participating in a March trade mission.
 
Nelson, who was briefed on the March trip, said health and safety are chief concerns as a result of agricultural practices in Cuba, especially for livestock that eventually could be shipped to the United States.
 
"They have some tremendous health issues with their animals and livestock. If we truly open up exports, we don't want to injure our livestock by bringing in diseases," said Nelson, who added that it would take time to set up a U.S.-style health and inspections system in Cuba.
 
Money is the next major challenge, Nelson said. Cuba doesn't have much cash.
 
"Credit is a big thing in Cuba. They just don't turn cash over, and they'd like to see that credit extended," said Nelson, noting that while some short-term loans are allowed, long-term credit is the key to opening Cuba to U.S. products.