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How opening trade with Cuba could help Michigan agriculture

How opening trade with Cuba could help Michigan agriculture
Emily Lawler |
on March 10, 2015 at 11:29 AM, updated March 10, 2015 at 12:23 PM

LANSING, MI — In a phone call from Cuba last week, Michigan
Agri-Business Association president Jim Byrum said he saw opportunities
for Michigan to export items like eggs, fruit, and beans to the country.

Byrum was one of four Michigan agriculture representatives to go to Cuba
as part of a trip by the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba. One goal
of the trip was to learn about possible agricultural opportunities.

“Our agribusiness and commodity group representatives had positive
interactions with Cuban government officials, Cuban farmers and
agricultural cooperatives on last week’s learning journey, and we
believe opportunity exists to boost agriculture in both our nations by
forging a stronger relationship,” said USACC Chair Devry Boughner Vorwerk.

But to do that, the U.S. would have to lift a trade embargo with Cuba.
Legislation to that effect has been introduced, according to the Wall
Street Journal.

President Barack Obama recently loosened travel restrictions and moved
to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba for the first time since

Byrum said doing trade with Cuba works differently than in some countries.

“To sell to Cuba you have to sell to a central buying agency,” Byrum said.

As part of the trip, the USACC delegation met with representatives of
that buying agency. But they also wanted to learn more about
agricultural products and uses currently in Cuba. They learned about a
robust urban gardening system and what types of foods the hospitality
industry in Cuba requires.

While he’s anticipating more tourism interest from U.S. citizens, Byrum
said that “what really drive exports… are meeting the staple

Also on the trip from Michigan were representatives of Star of the West
Milling in Frankenmuth and Cooperative Elevator Company in Pigeon.

Emily Lawler is a Capitol/Lansing business reporter for MLive. You can
reach her at, subscribe to her on Facebook or follow
her on Twitter: @emilyjanelawler.

Source: How opening trade with Cuba could help Michigan agriculture | –

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