News Releases

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- I want to congratulate the U.S. pea and lentil industry on its first sale of dry peas to Cuba in 42 years. I'm so excited that we are finally beginning to see true progress for our farmers.

After just 17 months in the Senate, Senator Maria Cantwell has made a real difference for Washington state farmers. In particular, I applaud her diligent work to open Cuba to our producers. Senator Cantwell led a Washington state delegation to Cuba in January where she urged Cuba to purchase our state's farm products. Cuba responded shortly thereafter.

Our 40-year policy of isolating Cuba is a failure. During my nine years as a U.S. Senator, I have been a strong proponent of changing that policy, including ending the ban on the sale of medicine and food to Cuba.

The Farm Bill passed by the Senate earlier this year would have allowed U.S. banks to finance food sales to Cuba. The sanctions reform law passed in 2000 opened trade with Cuba, but only for cash sales. Unfortunately, the House leadership's short-sighted opposition doomed the private financing provision in the final Farm Bill.

I look forward to continuing to work with Senator Cantwell to create more export opportunities for Washington producers in Cuba and around the world.