Katie O'Brien
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What the End of the Cuban Embargo Means for Agriculture

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United States lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday that could speed up the process to end the embargo between the U.S. and Cuba, Reuters reported. Enacted more than 50 years ago during the Kennedy Administration, the embargo has prevented the U.S. from trading, traveling to and maintaining normalized relations with the Communist country.

The embargo’s end has garnered bipartisan support, with legislators working to push the bills through Congress to land on President Obama’s desk. Most recently legislators, both Democrat and Republican, proposed legislation allowing American telecommunications companies to carry out business in Cuba, as well as a bill to help locate the agricultural market and life travel bans for leisure.

U.S. farmers could see the effects of open agricultural trade within five years if the embargo is lifted, ProCon.org reported. The US Chamber of Commerce announced the losses could cap at least $1.2 billion per year, while the Cuban Policy Foundation recorded projected cost to the US economy as $4.84 billion in exports. However, according to Choices Magazine, an embargo lift would mean an increase of U.S. agriculture products into the Cuban economy, benefiting both Cuban currency as well as the U.S. economy.

President Obama announced in December 2014 his plans to end the embargo, and, in turn, stabilize relations with Cuba. Since the announcement, the President’s plan has garnered bipartisan support.

“Neither the American nor Cuban people are well served by a rigid policy that’s rooted in the events that took place before most of us were born.” President Obama said. “These 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.”

However, the proposed set of legislation aimed to help ease the transition into a normalized relationship between the U.S. and Cuba was not met without opposition. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Cuban-American and 2016 Republican Presidential candidate hopeful, has voiced his strong opinion about keeping the embargo in place.

“The Cuban people are the only people in this hemisphere who have not had a free and fair election in the last decade and a half,” Rubio said. “They are no less deserving of freedom and democracy than the people of Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti. The notion that we should somehow be more patient with Cuba than all these other societies is quite frankly unfair and offensive.”

According to a poll by the Associated Press 45 percent of the American population approve of ending the embargo with Cuba while only 15 percent disapprove.