On November 15 and 16 NAEGA Director of Operations Ryan Olson travelled to Baltimore, MD to attend the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council’s (USAEDC) Annual Workshop. A copy of the agenda is available here.
During the workshop, Ryan heard reports on USDA programs and policy objectives over the past year, including:
Market Access Program
USDA Market Access Program (MAP) participants have been notified of their 2017 program year ceilings. This program year overall funds for participants are lower due to higher rate of fund usage in 2017 and the addition of a new program participant. USDA Office of Trade Programs staff, which oversees the MAP program, added that program funding in the future remains insecure do to short term funding of the federal government and ongoing sequestration.
The Administration continues to pursue President Obama’s priority of liberalizing agricultural trade with Cuba. USDA Under Secretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Alexis Taylor spoke to the plenary session about the progress and promise of increased agricultural trade. In addition, the State Department and FAS spoke on USDA’s continued work on the island. Currently, USDA has signed 10 memorandums of understanding with the Cuban government regarding agricultural relations and the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) has undertaken six rounds of country sanctions changes. The U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) currently has a rotating employee working in the Embassy in Havana, and the USDA hopes to assign more long-term staff to the Embassy once resources are available. Moving forward, USDA and the State Department are pursuing three channels for future engagement: continued dialogues regarding property rights, human rights and U.S. prisoners; strengthening bilateral cooperation; and explaining to the public and the Cuban people the scope and detail of policy changes.
Please contact Ryan for more information on the workshop or if you have any questions.