October 3-6, 2017
SLC Agriculture & Rural Development Committee Delegation
Agricultural Trade with 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, 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 the Organopónico Vivero Farming Cooperative (UBPC), a 4-hectare farm located on the outskirts of Havana. In response to the food crisis in the 1990s, urban organic garden projects, such as the UBPC, were initiated throughout the country. Participants learned about the history of the farm, growing techniques, the distribution and sales of their products and how the cooperative has impacted the lives of the workers.
Josefina Vidal Ferreiro, 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, Education, and Transportation to learn about Cuba’s growing economy and industrial development.
Delegation participants included Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones, Georgia; Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment, Virginia; and Speaker Pro Tempore Walt Leger III, Louisiana.