Cuban families are not the only victims of the embargo. Many of the dollars Cubans could earn from U.S. tourists would come back to the United States to buy American products, especially farm goods.
In 2000, Congress approved a modest opening of the embargo. The Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000 allows cash-only sales to Cuba of U.S. farm products and medical supplies. The results of this opening have been quite amazing. Since 2000, total sales of farm products to Cuba have increased from virtually zero to $380 million last year. From dead last in U.S. farm export markets, Cuba ranked 25th last year out of 228 countries in total purchases of U.S. farm products. Cuba is now the fifth largest export market in Latin America for U.S. farm exports. American farmers sold more to Cuba last year than to Brazil. Our leading exports to Cuba are meat and poultry, rice, wheat, corn, and soybeans.
The American Farm Bureau estimates that Cuba could eventually become a $1 billion agricultural export market for products of U.S. farmers and ranchers. The embargo stifles another $250 million in potential annual exports of fertilizer, herbicides, pesticides and tractors. According to a study by the U.S. International Trade Commission, the embargo costs American firms a total of $700 million to $1.2 billion per year. Farmers in Texas and neighboring states are among the biggest potential winners. One study by Texas A&M University estimated that Texas ranks fifth among states in potential farm exports to Cuba, with rice, poultry, beef and fertilizer the top exports.”