Cuba to Purchase More Food From Nebraska
Wednesday April 19, 2006 9:46 PM
By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ
Associated Press Writer
HAVANA (AP) – Cuba agreed Wednesday to buy another $30 million in food
from Nebraska, strengthening trade relations with a U.S. farm state
already selling corn, wheat, soybeans and other products to the
Nebraska Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy and Agriculture Director Greg Ibach led
the trade delegation, which included meat and other agriculture
producers on the four-day trip.
In August, Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman visited Cuba and signed a
separate deal to export $30 million in agricultural products in an
18-month period. Most of those deals have since been completed, said
Pedro Alvarez, head of the Cuban food import firm Alimport.
“We’ve had a great commerce experience with Nebraska and this shows the
desire of many (U.S.) states to work for free trade with the United
States,” Alvarez told The Associated Press at Havana’s historic Hotel
Nacional during a breakfast hosted by Farmland Foods Inc. featuring
Nebraska pork and other meat products.
Sheehy said the new deal will include the export of pork, cattle,
poultry, wheat, corn, soybeans, dry beans and dairy in the next 18 months.
“Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in the state and Gov. Heineman saw
an opportunity in Cuba to expand our market,” Sheehy said.
Alvarez said the new trade deal includes a $2.8 million meat purchase
from Farmland Foods Inc.
“We’re consolidating the links between the state of Nebraska and our
country, links that would be strengthen if (trade) restrictions were
eliminated,” Alvarez said.
A 45-year-old U.S. embargo against communist Cuba severely limits travel
and trade with the island, but an exception created in 2000 allows food
and agricultural products to be sold directly on a cash-only basis.
Alvarez said Cuba expects to spend between $450 to $550 million on U.S.
food products this year from a total of about $1.7 billion allocated for
For the past four years, Cuba has contracted to buy more than $1.4
billion in farm goods from 38 U.S. states, including shipping and hefty
bank fees to send payments through third nations, according to Alimport.
“Cuba has been a very valuable trading partner for us,” Heineman said
via telephone at a news conference later Wednesday. He also announced
plans to visit Cuba in the fall.