03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Big Ag Takes Aim at Cuban Embargo

You have to give Big Ag its due: Big Soy and friends are pushing hard to end the ridiculous US embargo of Cuba. From Hoosier Ag Today:

The American Soybean Association reports that legislation to expand agricultural trade to Cuba will be introduced by Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson, Representative Jerry Moran, Agriculture Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro, and Representative Jo Ann Emerson.

It might seem ironic to see a Blue Dog like Collin Peterson and a rectangle-state Republican like Rep. Jerry Moran advocating for trade with Socialists. But this is an old tune of theirs, actually. In particular, Jerry Moran has been pushing for normalization of Cuba trade relations for a decade and frequently took on the Florida-pandering Bush administration for its efforts to strengthen the embargo. Smart dude. If he's successful in busting down trade-barriers for his farmers, you'll see a Jerry Moran International Airport in Topeka.

And the time seems uniquely ripe to tear down this wall. High Plains Journal reports:

The American Farm Bureau Federation and Grocery Manufacturers Association...joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other trade groups to urge [then] President-elect Obama to begin the process of restoring relations [to Cuba].

Furthermore, HPJ says that attitudes toward Cuba are shifting, even in anti-Castro quarters of Miami:

A recent poll of Cuban-Americans in south Florida found 55 percent favor ending the trade embargo and 65 percent favor restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba. Even larger majorities favored lifting travel restrictions. It is the first time since the poll began in 1997 that a majority favored lifting the embargo.

Before scheduling daily flights from Topeka to Havana, though, it's worth noting that

Cuban-American members of Congress from the Miami area are likely to resist any effort to relax Washington's trade restrictions.(High Plains Journal)

Agreed. It's one thing for recent arrivals and third generation Cuban American kids to skew poll numbers, and it's another entirely to crack the back of old anti-Castro Money.

But this isn't the Bush White House anymore, and while President Obama extended the Cuba embargo for one year (he's got some other stuff happening right now), spring is in the air for DC and Havana. In that light, one assumes that if Big Ag gets its wish and forces the embargo issue, we'll see a Farm State vs. Florida skirmish next year, and, just to ice up that delicious cake, the potential for a deepening Republican versus Republican civil war.

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