WASHINGTON – Agriculture groups are uniting around a mission to end the Cuban embargo and forge a path toward open trade and investment.

Thirty prominent stakeholders in the food and agriculture industries have formed the US Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC). The coalition aims to expand Cuba as a market for US food and agricultural products, while supporting imports of food, beverages and agricultural products produced in Cuba.

“Changes to US policy toward Cuba can support economic growth and well-being in both countries,” said Devry Boughner Vorwerk, Cargill vice president and USACC chair. “Improvements in Cuba market access allows for US farmers, ranchers and food companies to serve a nearby market and the Cuban people gain improved access to healthy and affordable food and feed.”

Currently, financing and trade restrictions limit the ability of US companies to be competitive in Cuba even though US food and agriculture companies can legally export to Cuba. Only 90 miles away from the US, Cuba represents a market of 11 million individuals.

“The historic policy changes announced by the President will take steps to make American farm and products more price competitive, which will expand choices for Cuban shoppers at the grocery store and create a new customer base for America's farmers and ranchers,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "The President and this Administration look forward to engaging in an honest and serious debate about next steps in Cuba, and I have no doubt that the USACC will have an important role to play as these conversations continue and we expand our relationship with the Cuban people in the coming years.”

Organizations representing the meat and poultry industries include the North American Meat Institute, National Chicken Council, Cargill and Smithfield Foods.