November 7-10, 2017
SLC Agriculture & Rural Development Committee Delegation
Agricultural Trade with Cuba
A second 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.
To gain a deeper understanding of the nuances of U.S. – Cuban relations, delegates met with Larry Gumbiner, the newly-appointed Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Havana. Mr. Gumbiner briefed delegates on recent diplomatic developments, opportunities for trade partnerships, and the Trump Administration’s approach to future engagement.
Ms. 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.
Delegates toured organic and cooperative farming operations in the Cuban countryside. 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.
Delegation participants included Speaker Philip Gunn, Mississippi; Speaker Tim Moore, North Carolina; and Speaker Jeremy Gillam, Arkansas.