Process Management

News last update:6 Aug 2012

Cuba outlet for DDGS from Iowa

Cuba can become a more important market for Iowa's agricultural commodities, say representatives of the Iowa Corn Growers Association and the Iowa Corn Promotion Board who travelled to Cuba.

"For the last decade, Iowa Corn and the Iowa Department of Agriculture have led a sustained effort to increase food and feed sales to Cuba," says Craig Floss, CEO for ICGA and ICPB. "In the last marketing year, 95% of Cuba's corn imports came from the US. That is real progress, given the legal restrictions on US-Cuba trade."

Cuba's corn purchases this year could be nearly 40 million bushels ( 1 million tonnes), but Floss is even more enthusiastic about Cuba's development as a market for distillers dried grains, or DDGs from Iowa's ethanol industry.

"Distillers dried grains was unknown in Cuba before 2004. Our work to introduce its use is paying off. Last year, the Cubans bought about 100,000 tonnes, and this year that is expected to double."

The ICGA's efforts to open and improve trade with Cuba began with a humanitarian food donation in 1998, followed by exchanges that brought key Cuban food officials to Iowa and took Iowa farmers and feed experts to Cuba.

The most recent mission focused specifically on educating Cuban livestock feeders in the use of corn and DDG in dairy, swine and poultry production.

Trade restrictions
US trade restrictions on Cuba, which have been in place since Fidel Castro overthrew a pro-US government and installed a Communist regime there 50 years ago, require Cubans to pay cash for all their purchases of US food and agricultural products. The US only allows agriculture commodities, medicine and health products to be sold to Cuba. Imports of Cuban products to the US are prohibited.

Americans cannot travel to Cuba for tourism. They can only go for trade missions or educational exchanges. These restrictions hurt Cuba's ability to earn dollars that could be spent on buying agricultural products such as US corn and distillers grains. The trade restrictions hurt Cuban expansion in animal industries, because they lack the dollars to pay for feed imports.

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