US (NC): Farmers seek fast track to Cuba

State agriculture officials met Friday with a U.S. Department of Agriculture official to discuss fast-track trade deals and getting access to the Cuban market.

Fast-track, otherwise known as trade promotional authority, is a congressional permission slip for the president to negotiate trade contracts with other countries. Congress is expected to vote on it later this year.

North Carolina’s agriculture industry backs fast-track because it can open new markets for exports more quickly. Producers from pork and poultry to tobacco and sweet potatoes told Deputy U.S. Agriculture Secretary Krysta Harden they’re looking for ways to increase their business overseas.

Harden noted the state’s high interest in opening exports to Cuba.

“A lot of the different groups represented in this round table were talking about the potential of trade with Cuba,” she said. “They’re very excited. They’re anxious to get started. They’re asking me when they can go on a trade mission. So, the potential is there, and I hope that it’s opening very soon for agriculture products.”

Not everyone is a fan of fast-track. Critics say it gives the president too much power and could mean fewer jobs and lower wages for people in the U.S.

Source: wral.com

Fresh Plaza, March 23, 2015

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