(Posted Fri. Jun 19th, 2015)
Leaders from the National Corn Growers Association, the U.S. Grains Council and the North Dakota Barley Council will travel to Cuba next week to continue the grain industry’s appraisal of the market potential for U.S. coarse grain exports and reengagement with key customers.
This mission will include a visit to a Cuban port, meetings with Cuban government officials and tours of the animal sectors in Cuba including dairy, poultry and beef.
The following U.S. ag commodity leaders are slated to take part in this mission: U.S. Grains Council Chairman Ron Gray; U.S. Grains Council Vice Chairman Alan Tiemann; National Corn Growers Association First Vice President Rob Elliott; North Dakota Barley Council Chairman Doyle Lentz; National Corn Growers Association CEO Chris Novak; U.S. Grains Council President and CEO Tom Sleight; National Corn Growers Association Director of Public Policy Zach Kinne; U.S. Grains Council Regional Director of the Western Hemisphere Marri Carrow; and U.S. Grains Council Manager of Global Trade Manuel Sanchez.
“We know there are significant opportunities for U.S. coarse grain exports to Cuba if policies allow us to help develop markets there,” Sleight said. “In addition to looking at opportunities, the mission will look at barriers and hurdles to trade, including those related to finance that the Council’s assessments to date have identified as critical.”
The long-time U.S. embargo on engagement with Cuba has limited the ability of Cubans to bring in U.S. dollars from tourism or exports. This and restrictions on how sales to Cuba can be financed has made increasing trade with the country very challenging.
Despite this, the market offers significant opportunities for U.S. farmers with imports of 35.4 million bushels of corn annually. If U.S. farmers could capture that entire market share on a regular basis, Cuba would become the 12th largest importer of U.S. corn and would also have the potential to increase its usage of U.S. distiller’s dried grains with solubles and other grains.
According to Gray, who visited Cuba with a wider ag industry group in March, there is also potential to further increase the market’s demand for coarse grains by developing its poultry industry.
“Currently, Cuba has no broiler production and limited egg production,” Gray said. “The Cuban government has indicated it is open to cooperation with the private sector, which would allow programs to build and expand the nation’s poultry production, which would create new demand for corn and other coarse grains and co-products in this nation that is just 90 miles south of the U.S. coast.”