The Agriculture Department's announcement that commodity checkoff funds can be used to help market U.S. farm products in Cuba lets America's farmers invest directly in the growth in trade between the two nations.
American-grown foods hold a clear competitive advantage in the Cuban marketplace, and the use of farmer- and rancher-generated funds to promote and market U.S. farm goods fits the checkoff mission perfectly.
AFBF and other farm groups have been working closely with USDA in hopes of lifting the prohibition against using agricultural checkoff funds in Cuba.
This announcement by USDA represents a major boost in growing the Cuban market that sits just 90 miles off our coast. I want to personally thank USDA and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack for the support shown America's farmers and ranchers in this matter.
Checkoff funds are raised through a direct assessment on farmers, ranchers and agricultural businesses and are not taken from U.S. treasury funds. As such, it is appropriate that the many farmers and ranchers who pay into the assessment and pay for the oversight of the program by USDA be allowed to see those funds invested in the development of the Cuban market.
Duvall is president of the American Farm Bureau Federation