As Embassy announced, barley, grain and corn leaders visit Cuba
Trip part of ongoing effort to build plans to address marketing,
financial and educational barriers to increasing grain sales to Cuba
Published on: Jul 2, 2015
Leaders from the National Corn Growers, North Dakota Barley Council, and
U.S. Grains Council last week visited Cuba to continue assessment of the
marketing, financial and educational barriers to increasing grain sales
to the country.
The trip comes just shortly before the President on Wednesday announced
an agreement to restore the U.S. Embassy in Cuba.
“Cuba could be a growing market for U.S. corn, but our own policies are
standing in the way,” said USGC Chairman Ron Gray. “A major lesson from
this trip was that the embargo has created an environment where our
competitors such as Brazil dominate the market. If policy allowed us to
help develop the Cuban market, we might be able to retake our dominant
An empty flagpole stands in front of the Cuban Interests Section, the de
facto diplomatic mission for Cuba in the United States, July 1, 2015, in
Washington, DC. U.S. President Barack Obama announced that Cuba and the
United States would re-establish diplomatic ties, including an exchange
of ambassadors and embassies after more than 50 years. (Photo by Chip
Cuba has purchased corn from the United States since the early 2000s,
with market share varying widely from as high as 100% to just 15% last
marketing year. The country has purchased distiller’s dried grains with
solubles, a byproduct of the ethanol manufacturing process, from the
United States since 2005, according to NCGA.
If Cuba purchased all of its imported corn from the United States, NCGA
says it would be the 12th largest overseas market for the product.
Meeting with Cuban officials
The grain industry groups visited with government officials in the Cuban
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of
Foreign Trade and Investments. Stops also included a Cuban port and
visits to rice and corn operations.
“The Cubans are excited to engage with the United States and want to
learn more from the U.S. agriculture industry about poultry and dairy
production in particular,” said Rob Elliott, NCGA first vice president.
“Hopefully we can continue this dialogue and exchange of ideas that will
be beneficial for both countries.”
According to previous USGC assessments, Cuba has no broiler production
and limited egg production. And, while imports from the United States
are limited by longstanding policy, a lack of dollars and credit
challenges, the Cuban government wants its agriculture sector to grow.
n addition, the Cuban people and foreign tourists could demand more meat
products in their diet as the country’s economy improves.
“We have an opportunity to work with the Cuban people to build their
industries and, at the same time, build demand for our grain,” Gray
said. “The Council has used this model all over the world, and it’s
clear that type of engagement could now also work in Cuba given the
Although there are significant opportunities in this market for U.S.
coarse grains and co-products, current restrictions imposed by the U.S.
government severely hinder Cuba’s trade prospects.
“This mission reaffirmed that it’s time for a new U.S. policy toward
Cuba, and now is the time to act,” Elliott said. “There are several
bills before Congress to ease the embargo. NCGA will continue to educate
Congress on the importance of the U.S.-Cuba relationship.”
According to an announcement released by the White House Wednesday, Cuba
and the U.S. will re-establish diplomatic relations and permanent
diplomatic missions on July 20.
“In making this decision, the United States is encouraged by the
reciprocal intention to develop respectful and cooperative relations
between our two peoples and governments consistent with the Purposes and
Principles enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations,” the
Cuba was removed from the state sponsors of terrorism list in May. The
U.S. and Cuba first announced intentions to restore trade and diplomatic
ties on Dec. 17, 2014.
Source: As Embassy announced, barley, grain and corn leaders visit Cuba
– Farm Futures –