Lifting trade restrictions to Cuba could triple U.S. pork exports by removing limits on travel and export financing for products shipped, according to an Iowa State University (ISU) report.

The National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) is urging passage of House bill H.R. 4645 that would permit U.S. citizens to travel to Cuba and allow direct transfers of funds from Cuban to U.S. financial institutions for products authorized under the Trade Sanctions and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. The law provides exemptions for agricultural and medical products to the unilateral trade embargo the United States imposed on Cuba after that country nationalized the property of U.S. citizens and corporations.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee is expected to mark up the bill today. NPPC sent a letter in support of the bill on Monday. Senate companion legislation is pending action in the Finance Committee.

According to ISU economist Dermot Hayes U.S. pork exports would expand by $28.2 million once the travel and financing restrictions are lifted. This past year the United States shipped about $13.4 million of pork to Cuba.

A study conducted by Texas A&M University suggests the policy change would create about 6,000 U.S. jobs and that total U.S. exports would climb by $365 million a year.

“Because of its proximity to Cuba – just 90 miles separate the countries – the United States is in position to capture a large share of the Cuban pork import market,” says NPPC President Sam Carney, a pork producer from Adair, IA. “For the U.S. pork industry to remain successful and viable, we need new and expanded market access, and H.R. 4645 can provide that access.”

Last year the U.S. pork industry shipped more than $4.3 billion of pork products, adding about $38/head in value to each hog marketed.

Learn more at www.nppc.org.