Colorado Ag Seeks to Increase Trade with Cuba

The Denver Post reports that officials at the Colorado Department of Agriculture are looking for ways to open up more agricultural trade with the nation of Cuba, a practice banned by the Owens administration. Cuba’s demand for American foodstuffs has grown from $6 million in 2001 to $700 million in 2008 and Colorado can no longer afford to ignore such a market. The Colorado Department of Agriculture is seeking partner organizations who can help with the logistics of coordinating a trade delegation to the island.

The Post writes that…

Tim Larsen, the state Agriculture Department’s senior international marketing specialist, is leading Colorado’s exploration of the Cuban market with the support of many farm and business interests across the state.

“We’re complying with U.S. regulations in a growth market,” Larsen said. “The mood is changing about Cuba. Do we position ourselves to take advantage of it now, or do we wait?”

Colorado companies already sell some products to Cuba — about $1 million worth in 2008 — all of them exempt from the long-standing U.S. trade embargo.

Since 2000, when Congress exempted agricultural and medical products from the embargo, at least 21 states have led trade missions to the island nation with varying degrees of success.

According to The Post, Nebraska is one of the states that has had great success. The Great Northern Bean market was in serious trouble before a trade delegation paved the way for $20 million in sales as of 2008.

While there is still some contention about increased trade with Cuba it is apparent that our embargo has done nothing to weaken the Castro regime. Recently, Raul Castro, the brother of the ailing Fidel Castro and current ‘President’ of Cuba, has signaled a more moderate style and has improved on human rights abuses. Many in the U.S.  think it is time to open up travel and trade with the island nation and allow Cuban nationals to get a breath of the freedom we have here in America. Maybe then we will see change in Cuba.


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