Texas Agriculture November 4, 2016 : Page 16

AgLead explores Cuban agriculture, policies By Shala Watson Staff Writer Members of the AgLead XII class traveled abroad last month to explore Cuban history, culture, agriculture and discuss trade potential. The international trip provided the opportunity to see the impact of Washington’s efforts to boost relations between the U.S. and Cuban govern-ments by loosening trade restrictions and barriers to travel. The group was able to gain an un-derstanding of Cuba’s economy and political system through dialogue with Cuban leaders, farmers, coopera-tives and residents. The 11 AgLead XII members, rep-resenting counties from across the state of Texas, toured both rural and urban parts around the Havana area of Cuba Oct. 10-14. “AgLead’s international trip helps participants understand production practices, infrastructures, cultural differences and the opportunities and challenges that our Cuban counter-parts face,” said Jamie Gipe, TFB di-N OVEMBER 4 , 2016 rector of Organization. The five-day trip included a visit to Organoponico Vivero Alamar, an organic farm located just outside Ha-vana. This cooperative farm began as a food source for the surrounding neighborhood and has grown into a 25-acre vegetable garden with ani-mals, fruits and herbs. The farm yields 300 tons of harvested vegetables an-nually and the produce is sold to near-ly 50,000 people every year. The group discussed with employees the impact this farm has had not only in Cuba, but internationally. The group visited Fernando Fu-nes Agroecological Farm where they heard from Dr. Fernando Funes, the key founder and visionary of the Agroecological Movement in Cuba. Agroecology is part of Cuba’s efforts to create a more self-sufficient and sus-tainable food system. Trade was high on the agenda. The group discussed the development of Cuban agriculture with an official from The Ministry of Agriculture, as well as a visit to the Cuban Asso-ciation of Agriculture and Forestry Workers. They also met with repre-sentatives from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Ex-ternal Relations. James O’Brien, an AgLead partici-pant from Refugio County, believes there is tremendous trade potential for Cuba to become the southeastern export headquarters due to its close geographic proximity to the U.S. But he said the lack of trust could remain a barrier to successful business trans-actions. “Indirect transactions, however, could be a tremendous opportunity with widespread impact,” O’Brien said. “The problem is trust…there is no trust and credit is required in these types of transactions.” They also toured farms and ranch-es, exploring the tropical climate and crops grown in the region. Organi-cally grown sugarcane, citrus, coffee, tobacco and vegetables are the main commodities for Cuba. The majority of plowing is still done by oxen with very limited access to antiquated tractors. “We saw an in-depth look at dif-ferent commodities and how Cuba’s climate affects what they can grow there. They grow organically, because they do not have sufficient access to fertilizer and chemicals, nor could they afford them even if they did. Organic began out of necessity and evolved into a philosophy,” Gipe sai AgLead XII’s trip to Cuba conclud-ed a two-year, intensive program that examined agricultural policies, regula-tions and practices in Texas, the U.S. and around the world. “AgLead demonstrates how impor-tant it is to connect with people. Con-necting with political representatives, connecting with ag professionals that went before us and connecting with our peers whom are striving to im-prove current operations, are all amaz-ingly beneficial to developing a lead-ership style,” O’Brien said. “AgLead requires that we represent ourselves. We have to find a leadership style within a framework of the personality and skills that God gave us. AgLead helped me find that leadership style.” Steps taken to increase trade with Cuba The long saga of the United States’ relationship with Cuba has taken a significant turn. The U.S. trade embargo on Cuba has now been in effect for more than half a century. Lifting it is a decision for Congress and most be-lieve that is not politically possible in the near future. The Obama ad-ministration, however, has taken several actions that should in-crease trade between the two na-tions, which includes some positive steps for agriculture. Cuba is only 90 miles from Flori-da and that geographical advantage has not been exploited for some time. In the 1950s, much of the rice consumed in Cuba was grown in the fields of Southeast Texas. Rice is the staple food of the Cuban peo-ple. Cuba now buys food from other nations, like Canada and those of Southeast Asia. The small island nation does pres-ent some trade opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products. Famous Cuban cigars and rum will soon be available in the U.S., but some of the changes will also involve U.S. food products. The Obama administration lifted the six-month waiting period for for-eign ships to return to the U.S. after visiting Cuba, according to a story in Agri-Pulse. The regulatory changes should make it easier to sell farm equipment and crop chemicals to Cuba. In addition, the U.S. on Oct. 26 abstained from a United Nations vote calling for an end to the Cu-ban embargo, the first time in a quarter century the U.S. didn’t stand opposed. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said Washington abstained because of President Barack Obama’s new ap-16

AgLead Explores Cuban Agriculture, Policies

Shala Watson

Members of the AgLead XII class traveled abroad last month to explore Cuban history, culture, agriculture and discuss trade potential.

The international trip provided the opportunity to see the impact of Washington’s efforts to boost relations between the U.S. and Cuban governments by loosening trade restrictions and barriers to travel.

The group was able to gain an understanding of Cuba’s economy and political system through dialogue with Cuban leaders, farmers, cooperatives and residents.

The 11 AgLead XII members, representing counties from across the state of Texas, toured both rural and urban parts around the Havana area of Cuba Oct. 10-14.

“AgLead’s international trip helps participants understand production practices, infrastructures, cultural differences and the opportunities and challenges that our Cuban counterparts face,” said Jamie Gipe, TFB director of Organization.

The five-day trip included a visit to Organoponico Vivero Alamar, an organic farm located just outside Havana. This cooperative farm began as a food source for the surrounding neighborhood and has grown into a 25-acre vegetable garden with animals, fruits and herbs. The farm yields 300 tons of harvested vegetables annually and the produce is sold to nearly 50,000 people every year. The group discussed with employees the impact this farm has had not only in Cuba, but internationally.

The group visited Fernando Funes Agroecological Farm where they heard from Dr. Fernando Funes, the key founder and visionary of the Agroecological Movement in Cuba. Agroecology is part of Cuba’s efforts to create a more self-sufficient and sustainable food system.

Trade was high on the agenda. The group discussed the development of Cuban agriculture with an official from The Ministry of Agriculture, as well as a visit to the Cuban Association of Agriculture and Forestry Workers. They also met with representatives from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of External Relations.

James O’Brien, an AgLead participant from Refugio County, believes there is tremendous trade potential for Cuba to become the southeastern export headquarters due to its close geographic proximity to the U.S. But he said the lack of trust could remain a barrier to successful business transactions.

“Indirect transactions, however, could be a tremendous opportunity with widespread impact,” O’Brien said. “The problem is trust…there is no trust and credit is required in these types of transactions.”

They also toured farms and ranches, exploring the tropical climate and crops grown in the region. Organically grown sugarcane, citrus, coffee, tobacco and vegetables are the main commodities for Cuba. The majority of plowing is still done by oxen with very limited access to antiquated tractors.

“We saw an in-depth look at different commodities and how Cuba’s climate affects what they can grow there. They grow organically, because they do not have sufficient access to fertilizer and chemicals, nor could they afford them even if they did. Organic began out of necessity and evolved into a philosophy,” Gipe sai

AgLead XII’s trip to Cuba concluded a two-year, intensive program that examined agricultural policies, regulations and practices in Texas, the U.S. and around the world.

“AgLead demonstrates how important it is to connect with people. Connecting with political representatives, connecting with ag professionals that went before us and connecting with our peers whom are striving to improve current operations, are all amazingly beneficial to developing a leadership style,” O’Brien said. “AgLead requires that we represent ourselves. We have to find a leadership style within a framework of the personality and skills that God gave us. AgLead helped me find that leadership style.”

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/AgLead+Explores+Cuban+Agriculture%2C+Policies/2629369/354594/article.html.

Steps Taken to Increase Trade with Cuba

The long saga of the United States’ relationship with Cuba has taken a significant turn.

The U.S. trade embargo on Cuba has now been in effect for more than half a century. Lifting it is a decision for Congress and most believe that is not politically possible in the near future. The Obama administration, however, has taken several actions that should increase trade between the two nations, which includes some positive steps for agriculture.

Cuba is only 90 miles from Florida and that geographical advantage has not been exploited for some time.

In the 1950s, much of the rice consumed in Cuba was grown in the fields of Southeast Texas. Rice is the staple food of the Cuban people. Cuba now buys food from other nations, like Canada and those of Southeast Asia.

The small island nation does present some trade opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products.

Famous Cuban cigars and rum will soon be available in the U.S., but some of the changes will also involve U.S. food products.

The Obama administration lifted the six-month waiting period for foreign ships to return to the U.S. after visiting Cuba, according to a story in Agri-Pulse. The regulatory changes should make it easier to sell farm equipment and crop chemicals to Cuba.

In addition, the U.S. on Oct. 26 abstained from a United Nations vote calling for an end to the Cuban embargo, the first time in a quarter century the U.S. didn’t stand opposed. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said Washington abstained because of President Barack Obama’s new approach to Cuba, but she made clear that the U.S. “categorically” rejects statements in the resolution suggesting the embargo violated international law. Power also stressed that abstaining “does not mean that the United States agrees with all of the policies and practices of the Cuban government,” according to POLITICO.

Under current law, a waiting period for U.S. food sales to Cuba has caused problems for some U.S. agricultural exporters.

The new rule will help, but will limited by the remaining financial restrictions in the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act, according to David Salmonsen, a senior director for Congressional Relations at American Farm Bureau Federation.

“For food or agricultural commodities, the restrictions that are in the (Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act) still apply,” Salmonsen said. “That’s the main thing.”

The act was passed in 2000, and it allowed the U.S. to export farm goods to Cuba. But U.S. banks could not finance those sales. Cuba is required to pay up front with cash for goods or use third-party financing. Only Congress can lift those sanctions.

This financial restriction is the biggest barrier that prevents selling more corn, wheat, rice, poultry, dairy and other commodities to Cuba. Farm Bureau policy asks Congress to remove the remaining financial restrictions that block increased sales of agricultural products to Cuba.

The new regulatory changes remove the financing restrictions on farm equipment, but are expected to have little impact in short-term.

Questions remain about the economic health of Cuba and how much they can buy right now. Many observers believe that loosening trade restrictions now could set the stage for an improving trade relationship.

Read the full article at http://texasagriculture.texasfarmbureau.org/article/Steps+Taken+to+Increase+Trade+with+Cuba/2629371/354594/article.html.

Previous Page  Next Page


Publication List
Using a screen reader? Click Here