Open Trade With Cuba Could Benefit Idaho Farmers
A historic move for the United States to open trade with Cuba could impact Idaho, at least when it comes to sugar beet exports.
While sugar cane is one of Cuba's biggest products, a lot of folks don't realize sugar beets are one of Idaho's largest exports and opening up trade with Cuba could impact Idaho's exports. You don't have to go far to realize sugar is everywhere. And in Idaho sugar makes up a large portion of the $ 2 billion of the state's agriculture exports.
John Thompson with the Idaho Farm Bureau says sugar beets are the only commodity not offered a government subsidy. So it's protected by what's called a tariff-rate quota. It requires companies that do business in the United States to buy sugar from the U.S. producers first up to a certain quota that's set every year.
That’s good news for sugar beet farmers if the U.S. opens trade with Cuba who could export sugar cheaper. But Thompson says we still have better-quality sugar, and that's not all we have to offer. U.S. Sen. Jim Risch says the trade agreement probably won't actually happen since he feels both Democrats and Republicans will put up a strong fight against President Obama on this issue.
As far as Idaho agricultural exports go, Thompson says it's still too early to tell what could happen to the price if we do open up trade with Cuba.