Introduction By BillieBLVD
Most tobacco related businesses see Cuba as a threat but others see opportunity. From the perspective of tobacco producers the likes of Connecticut Broadleaf Maduro an island of cigar smokers are about to become accessible, demand is about to sky rocket, and Cuban cigar aficionados know that Connecticut tobacco is of the highest grade. This is a complete change in perspective and competitive strategy. If Cuba wants to doube its cigar production to reach 70% of the US cigar market they will need more high quality tobacco. The island does not have enough land to ramp up production to those levels. Also, there are a few hundred thousand cigar smokers on the island that may be looking for something new.
As public health initiatives cut into sales of cigars and cigarettes, Connecticut tobacco farmers are looking for new markets in Cuba.
Several months after President Barack Obama renewed diplomatic relations between the United States and the island nation's communist government, ending a 54-year freeze, proposed legislation in Congress would lift trade restrictions.
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., appeared Friday with South Windsor farmers and agriculture officials urging passage of the trade measure.
Ed Kasheta Jr., whose Kasheta Farms was founded by his great-great-grandfather in 1906, welcomes the prospect of selling tobacco to Cuba, which is known for its own cigar-making industry.
"I think it's one more place to reach out to," he said.
Tobacco is Connecticut's fifth largest agriculture product by market value, at $35.7 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The crop is grown on 49 farms and accounts for 6.5 percent of total agricultural product sales in the state.
Murphy is a co-sponsor of the Freedom to Export to Cuba Act, which would remove the president's authority to continue the embargo and eliminate enforcement of the embargo and prohibition on Cuban imports. Following the re-opening of the U.S. embassy in Cuba this summer, a "tectonic shift" in policy toward the Caribbean country has occurred, drawing bipartisanship support for the export legislation, Murphy said.
"A year ago, this bill wouldn't have had a chance," he said.