Havana, Cuba.- The fifth United States-Cuba Agricultural Conference ends with the desire to strengthen ties between the two countries’ producers despite the restrictions resulting from Washington’s blockade against Cuba.

In the opening session, US Congressman Rick Crawford assured that holding this kind of meeting constitutes progress, although “we are still not where we would like to be (…) We have to continue our dialogue to get to where we want to get as quickly as possible, so that we can face the problems of food security,” he said.

According to the president of the Focus Cuba consulting firm, Paul Johnson, the conference should serve to listen, learn and return with necessary concrete actions, whether with a trade agreement or with the commitment to continue these exchanges.

The Commissioner of Agriculture of Louisiana, Michel Strain, highlighted the favorable expectations and recalled a recent dialogue with Cuban president Miguel Díaz-Canel on the occasion of a visit to Havana, organized by the National Association of Departments of Agriculture of United States (NASDA). “It is time to go step by step, negotiate in good faith, resolve our differences, restore trade and work together to improve our relations,” he said.

For the US, businessmen and agricultural representatives from all areas of the country attended the meeting, while the Cuban delegation was formed by farmers, cooperative members, members of micro, small and medium-sized businesses, senior officials of the Ministry of Agriculture and NGOs.

Last Monday, the Minister of Agriculture of Cuba, Ydael Pérez, attended the opening of the conference, in which the head of the Agricultural Business Group, Orlando Linares, characterized the priorities of the State policy on food security, and damages inherent to the blockade imposed by the United States Government against Cuba.

In the opinion of the Cuban authorities, the US agricultural sector has been one of the most active and dynamic sectors in favor of improving bilateral relations and lifting coercive measures. The activism of American farmers was essential for Congress to approve the Sanctions Reform and Export Expansion Law in 2000, which allowed Cuba to buy food in the United States, although under disadvantageous conditions.