Photo Essay: Cuba Grain Importers Visit U.S. Farms, Exporters

Cuban importers and officials visit the U.S. Grains Council’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. April 18, 2016.

Team members visit USGC Vice Chairman Chip Councell’s family farm in Maryland to learn about local operations and the seed and fertilizer choices available to U.S. growers. April 19, 2016.

The Cuban group visits a grain terminal on the Mississippi River. April 20, 2016.

While in Maryland, the team toured a local elevator. April 19, 2016.

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The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) hosted a team of Cuban importers and officials to Washington, D.C., Maryland, Missouri and Louisiana this week to learn about the U.S. grain production and exporting systems and see the advantages of purchasing U.S. coarse grains and co-products.

Cuba’s proximity makes it a logical buyer of U.S. agriculture products, but the longtime embargo has meant lost sales both there and in the region. If the United States captured all of Cuba’s corn demand, it would be the 10th largest market for U.S. corn farmers worldwide.

Following the Obama Administration’s announcement in late 2014 that it would seek to dismantle the 50-year-old restrictions on how companies and individuals interact with the island nation, the Council has reassessed the Cuban market and is working to help mitigate the barriers that still remain to sales there.

This week’s team is a direct outgrowth of that work, which revealed that critical staff in Cuba’s food importer, Alimport, had changed over time and that officials want more information about U.S. grain production, management, buying and exports.

Despite serious issues of financing and credit that remain as impediments to increased U.S. grain trade with Cuba - as well other non-tariff, infrastructural and institutional barriers that challenge the Cuban economy as a whole - there are also opportunities for partnership between the U.S. ag value chain and the Cuban feed, livestock and poultry industries.

The team’s meetings this week are intended to help address these challenges and are a critical part of the Council’s market development efforts in the island nation.

Additional photos are available here.