U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, is part of a bipartisan group formed to improve relations between the United States and Cuba.
The Cuba Working Group is made up of Crawford and Reps. Kevin Cramer, R-ND, Tom Emmer, R-Minn., Reid Ribble, R-Wisc., Ted Poe, R-TX, Kathy Castor, D-Fla., Jim McGovern, D-Mass., Sam Farr, D-Calif., Barbara Lee, D-Calif., and Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.
In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the working group would have several objectives.
“Increasingly, the American people are indicating their desire for a new, more pragmatic approach to Cuba. More people are traveling from the U.S. to Cuba, more businesses are looking for opportunity on the island, and more sectors are eager for trade. The bi-partisan Cuba Working Group will promote a U.S.-Cuba policy that reflects the interests of the American people in engagement with Cuba,” noted the letter.
In a statement, Crawford said the United States would benefit from increased trade, especially in agriculture, and with the United States within 90 miles of the Cuban coast.
“The best approach to change between Cuba and U.S. relations is to make cautious and incremental changes to current Cuba policies in ways that benefit the United States and introduce the Cuban people to American products. Not only is it estimated that Cuba imports around 80 percent of its food supply, but the US also enjoys an inherent advantage due to our close geographic proximity and state of the art production and food distribution infrastructure,” Crawford said. “Agriculture trading partnerships with Cuba will help build a foundation of goodwill and cooperation that will open the door to long-sought reforms in the same the way that American influence has brought reform to other communist states.”
Earlier this year, Crawford introduced H.R. 3687, The Cuba Agricultural Exports Act. The bill would repeal restrictions on export financing and give producers access to Department of Agriculture marketing programs that help the US compete in foreign markets. The bill would also allow limited American investment in Cuban agribusinesses, as long as US regulators certify the entity is privately-owned and not controlled by the Government of Cuba, or its agents.