Relaxing Cuba & Farm Trade Surplus

Relaxing Cuba & Farm Trade Surplus

Relaxing Cuba & Farm Trade Surplus plus Food Forethought. I’m Greg Martin with today’s Northwest Report.

The land that inspired Ernest Hemingway may soon be more accessible to Americans. President Obama has directed his administration’s leadership to allow unlimited travel and money transfers by Cuban Americans to family in Cuba. But, administration officials say the President will keep the decades-old U.S. trade embargo, arguing the policy provides leverage to pressure the Castro regime to free all political prisoners. That move would be seen as one step toward normalized relations with the United States and Cuba. Castro has called the on-going embargo “cruel” and says they will not beg the U.S. to have it lifted.

The U.S. farm trade surplus is shrinking - partly due to declining prices last year - but also to the continuing deep global recession. New USDA data for the fiscal year through February shows a nearly 12-billion dollar U.S. ag trade surplus - but that’s down four-billion from a year earlier. Andy Jerardo is an Economist with USDA’s Economic Research Service.

JERARDO: It may be showing that exports are getting weaker however it also shows that imports from the latest news I’ve seen that imports are also getting weaker.

Now with today’s Food Forethought, here’s Lacy Gray.

To grow hemp or not to grow hemp, that seems to be the question up before many state legislatures once again. As most people know, hemp fibers are used to make any number of useful items, including rope, cloth, and paper products; the full list of hemp related products is too lengthy to mention here. And as most people also know, hemp’s closely related cousin is the notorious and illegal marijuana plant. In reality hemp has only a minute fraction of the intoxicating substance found in marijuana and was considered a legal crop until 1937. Many of our nation’s founding fathers were hemp growers. The antiquated ban on hemp cultivation needs to be reevaluated. Hemp offers every indication of being a very lucrative and marketable crop. It does however need to be closely monitored and controlled due to its tendency towards rapid and aggressive growth. Hemp naysayers need to be aware that industrial hemp is the non-psychoactive variety of the cannabis plant. Contrary to popular misconception, hemp is absolutely useless as a recreational drug.

Thanks Lacy. That’s today’s Northwest Report. I’m Greg Martin on the Northwest Ag Information Network.

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