A delegation from the US has just returned from a fact finding mission to Cuba. Several Hoosier farmers were on the trip and feel there is hope for trade in US farm products. Dunkirk farmer Dave Lowe was one of the participants in the Cuba mission. He told HAT that Cuba is a market that has a good deal of potential for imports of US farm commodities, “They have a poultry industry that would be a good market for US soybeans, and we saw several aquaculture facilities that could be a market for US soymeal.” He said they are also a big market for value added and processed food products, “Their grocery stores did not look like they had a lot of products in them.” The growing tourism industry in Cuba is requiring more high quality food products that Cuba is not able to produce.
But, trade with Cuba will not developed until US government restrictions are removed, “Right now Cuba has no credit with the US, everything they purchase must be in cash. That is not the way they can do business with other nations,” said Lowe. He added these are governmental issues that are far beyond the scope of agriculture to resolve.
Until those issues are resolved, Lowe feels an exchange of agricultural technology is the rest route to take, “We need to bring some of their key people here to our farms and show them how we produce. Then, send them back to implement that technology on their farms.” He said land grant universities, like Purdue, can play a large role in this effort. “It will need to be a grass roots effort of showing them how to produce the food they can produce; then we can sell them the food that we can produce,” said Lowe.
Other Hoosiers on the trip included Don Villwock of Indiana Farm Bureau and Jane Ade Stevens of the Indiana Soybean Alliance. The delegation also included several Michigan farmers and ag leaders.