December 11-14, 2018
SLC Agriculture & Rural Development Committee Delegation
Presiding Officer Delegation to Cuba
A delegation of presiding officers from the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) recently travelled to Havana, Cuba, to gain insight into the nation’s growing private sector, agricultural trade opportunities, internationally acclaimed biomedical research, and to participate in high-level briefings with ministry officials.
Despite a history of economic sanctions, the United States has emerged as a major exporter of agricultural goods to Cuba, which imports up to 80 percent of its food. Given Cuba’s geographic and economic position, states in the Southern region of the United States have competitive export advantages in terms of production, quality, logistics and proximity. Of all states exporting to Cuba, Southern states comprise nine of the top 10.
Delegates toured Visa Hermosa ranch, a 67 hectare agroecological farm dedicated to closed-cycle agricultural and livestock production that supplies local privately owned restaurants. Participants learned about the history of the farm, growing techniques, the distribution and sales of their products and how the farm has impacted the lives of the workers.
Mr. Carlos Fernández de Cossio Dominguez, Director General of the United States General Division of Cuba’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, briefed delegates on the status of U.S. – Cuban relations, as well as opportunities for partnership and collaboration. Delegates also participated in briefings with senior officials from the Ministries of Agriculture, Foreign Trade and Investment, Public Health, and Transportation to learn about Cuba’s growing economy and industrial development.
Delegation participants included Senator Jimmy Higdon, former Kentucky Senate President Pro Tempore; Senator Ferrell Haile, Tennessee Speaker Pro Tempore; Representative Tommy Pope, South Carolina Speaker Pro Tempore; Senator Greg Treat, Oklahoma Senate President Pro Tempore and Senator Ryan McDougle of Virginia, chair of the Senate Majority Caucus.