Good for Kansas agriculture officials, along with our two U.S. senators, for supporting President Obama’s push to expand trade with Cuba.
Doug Keesling, a Rice County farmer and a former chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission, provided testimony at a Senate Agriculture Committee hearing Tuesday chaired by Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan. Keesling was one of four Kansas agriculture officials who visited Cuba last month on a trade mission.
“From what I could see, there is a lot of potential in Cuba: potential in its own agriculture sector and potential as a market for U.S. agricultural exports,” Keesling testified.
He noted that Cuba imports 30 million bushels of wheat annually. “That would be over 10 percent of all the wheat grown in Kansas, going to this one island just a couple days’ sail from U.S. ports,” he said.
Kansas Agriculture Secretary Jackie McClaskey also supports expanding trade. “It makes sense that we should be looking to add new trading partners,” she said in a news release this week.
Other Kansas agriculture groups also back lifting trade barriers with Cuba.
But lifting trade barriers isn’t only about supporting Kansas agriculture. It’s also a recognition that the barriers have been ineffective.
Roberts noted during the hearing that agriculture should be used “as a tool – not a weapon – for peace and stability.”
And as Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., has observed: “If we have been trying something for more than five decades and it has yet to work, it is time to change.”
For the editorial board, Phillip Brownlee