Rep. Crawford to Major League Baseball: “Time to Play by the Rules!”

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Sara Robertson (

Sara.Robertson2@mail.house.gov

)

Rep. Crawford to Major League Baseball: “Time to Play by the Rules!”

April 5, 2021

Washington – Today, Representative Crawford announced his intention to draft legislation to level the playing field by treating all American businesses equally with respect to Cuba and other totalitarian regimes. Currently, a byzantine system of haves and have nots allows only select entities to participate in new markets for their goods or services.

“America has always been a country that affords everyone equal opportunity to pursue their business interests, and it should be no different for our agriculture producers,” said Crawford. “Cuba is an untapped market for our rice producers, as well as poultry growers across the country. It’s unconscionable that Major League Baseball has unfettered access to Cuba – which allows the organization to make untold amounts of money while the Cuban people still live under a repressive regime – and our agriculture producers operate by a different set of rules.”

Currently, American agriculture producers can export agricultural commodities to Cuban individuals unaffiliated with the government, but only through a cash-in-advance transaction, rather than a purchase on credit. However, Cuba is a cash poor country, meaning this policy practically restricts any consequential interactions between U.S. businesses and the Cuban people. Cuba is less than one hundred miles from the U.S. border and presents a significant market opportunity due to lower transportation costs and significant demand for high-quality, abundant food, such as rice and poultry. The Cuban people struggle to access an ample and healthy food supply due the oppressive Cuban government and would greatly benefit from affordable U.S. products.

Representative Crawford plans to draft legislation that requires Major League Baseball to follow the same rules as agriculture producers with regard to interactions with the Cuban government and the Cuban people. The legislation will prevent Major League Baseball from deriving any income or profit from the nation of Cuba, players who are citizens of Cuba, or the likeness of any player who participates in any level of the league. Players will be exempt from any of these policies and will be able to continue earning their salaries from their teams or endorsement contracts.   

“I have worked tirelessly over the last decade to open trade with the Cuban people. I have traveled to Cuba to meet with stakeholders in the agriculture sector and others interested in easing trade restrictions, who desperately want to access American agricultural goods,” said Crawford. “During one of my trips, I asked to visit the nicest grocery store in the country, only to find empty shelves with no food for the local residents. It’s past time that Major League Baseball play by the same rules hindering American agriculture producers to equally prevent the organization from profiting in a country that routinely oppresses its citizenry while interacting with other totalitarian regimes in the southern hemisphere.”

Representative Crawford has pursued multiple avenues during his time in congress to advance agricultural trade with Cuba and it’s citizenry:

2014 – Crawford Sends Bipartisan Letter on Cuba to President Obama (attached)

2015 – Crawford Announces Cuba Working Group

2016 – Crawford Heading to Cuba on Trade Trip

2016 – Crawford Sends Trump Transition Team Letter on Cuba

2017 – Crawford: Those whose property was thieved would receive compensation

2017 – WSJ: Open Cuba’s Market to U.S. Farmers

2017 – Crawford Opposes Cuba Policy Shift

2018 – Farm Bill Language Signifies Trade with Cuba as Historic, Mutually Beneficial

2019 – Bipartisan Legislation Introduced to Assist Farmers in Exporting to Cuba

“Just as America’s pastime requires everyone to play by the same set of rules, American policies with regard to Cuba must be applied equally to ensure every American business operates in the same manner. This common-sense policy should be as easy to implement as a 5-4-3 double play to win the game,” said Crawford.

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