National Corn, Barley Leaders To Visit Cuba To Continue Market Assessment

Cuba
This mission will include a visit to a Cuban port, meetings with Cuban government officials and tours of the animal sectors in Cuba including beef, dairy and poultry.

Leaders from the U.S. Grains Council (USGC), the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA) and the North Dakota Barley Council are set to 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 beef, dairy and poultry.

The following U.S. ag commodity leaders are slated to take part in this mission: 

  • Ron Gray, Chairman, U.S. Grains Council
  • Alan Tiemann, Vice Chairman, U.S. Grains Council
  • Rob Elliott, First Vice President, National Corn Growers Association
  • Doyle Lentz, Chairman, North Dakota Barley Council
  • Chris Novak, CEO, National Corn Growers Association
  • Tom Sleight, President and CEO, U.S. Grains Council
  • Zach Kinne, Director of Public Policy, National Corn Growers Association
  • Marri Carrow, Regional Director of the Western Hemisphere, U.S. Grains Council
  • Manuel Sanchez, Manager of Global Trade, U.S. Grains Council

“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 900,000 metric tons (35.4 million bushels) of corn annually. If U.S. farmers could capture all of that 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 (DDGS) 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. This could 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.”

Click here to read stories about USGC’s work in Cuba that were published in previous editions of Global Update.