Deere, Caterpillar and farmers benefit from Obama’s Cuba rules |

Deere, Caterpillar and farmers benefit from Obama’s Cuba rules

The Obama administration initiatives in making trade with Cuba easier substantially increased sales to Cuba in November 2017 compared to November 2016, Economic Eye on Cuba, a newsletter published by the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, announced Jan. 24.

Exports of food products and agricultural commodities from the United States to Cuba in November 2017 were $21.27 million compared to $10.59 million in November 2016 and $6.24 million in November 2015, Economic Eye on Cuba said. There were also substantial increases in sales of farm equipment and products for hotels and airlines.

Chicken in various forms was the biggest export, followed by herbicides. ag exporters in November 2017 were led by the following poultry companies:

▪ Atlanta-based AJC International

▪ Atlanta-based Intervision Foods

▪ Bedford, Mass.-based Sellari Enterprises

Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Koch Foods

▪ Little Rock, Ark.-based Mountaire Farms

▪ Salisbury, Md.-based Perdue Farms

▪ Wellesley, Mass.-based Grove Services

In 2015 and in 2016, the Obama administration expanded the list of products authorized for export to Cuba from the United States and from third countries to include agricultural equipment and products used by hotels and airlines, as long as the importers were not affiliated with the Cuban government.

In November 2017, products for use by hotels and airlines and agricultural distribution centers totaled $921,996, but most of it — $755,823 — was products going to the ag distribution centers.

John Deere and Caterpillar each opened an agricultural distribution center and have been the biggest exporters of farm equipment, but neither company has issued news releases about its sales to Cuba, Economic Eye on Cuba noted.

If the Cuban government concludes that further increased purchases can influence the political process in the United States, purchases are likely to increase, John Kavulich, president of the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, said in the report.

Kavulich noted that Cuba is receiving less financial support from Venezuela due to that country’s commercial and economic challenges, and that other countries that might be supportive of the Cuban government including Russia, China, Brazil and Iran “do not have the focus to replace Venezuela as benefactors of significance.”

Under these circumstances, he added, “the government of the Republic of Cuba may be entering a period of cautiousness and a full-on re-engagement with the United States may become problematic while the policy of the government of the United States remains to seek commercial, economic and political change within the Republic of Cuba.”