Idaho bill proposes renewed trade with Cuba
Campaign News | Wednesday, 13 February 2008
By Scott Logan
Castro's revolution in the late 1950s put an end to once booming trade with Idaho.
"In 1959, Cuba was our largest buyer of Idaho peas and lentils," said Rep. Tom Trail, (R) Moscow. "Once Castro came into power that all got shut off with the embargo which is still currently in effect."
President Kennedy imposed the economic and trade embargo against Cuba in 1961.
Now more than 40 years later, Trail is pushing for legislation to allow Idaho to trade with Cuba.The US trade embargo was tweaked a little in 2000 but it still makes it difficult for companies to do business with the island nation.
"There are some (tough) requirements and a lot of hurdles," said Frank Muir, CEO and President of the Idaho Potato Commission. "For most businesses, it's just too complicated to go through all those steps."
Gov. Butch Otter visited Cuba last spring, looking to open up Cuban markets for Idaho potatoes, pork and other agricultural products.
Many say if we already trade with China and Vietnam, why not Cuba?
But overcoming the Cuban trade embargo -- a vestige of the cold war -- will require the blessing of both congress and the president.