More beans to Cuba!

Created: 11/29/10 (Mon) | Topic: Issues

BISMARCK – North Dakota officials are working on finalizing an agreement for the sale of an additional 1,000 metric tons of dry edible beans to Cuba.

“Five thousand tons will leave North Dakota next month and the Cubans have bought another 5,000 tons from China,” said Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, who recently returned from Cuba. “This is an opportunity for us to build on our reputation as a ready dependable supplier of high quality commodities.”

Goehring led a seven-member North Dakota trade delegation on a four-day trade mission to Cuba. The delegation included Randy Schneider, president of the North Dakota Ethanol Producers Association; Alan Juliuson and Todd Sorenson, directors of the Northarvest Bean Growers Association; Ken Bertsch, state seed commissioner, and two North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) staff members, Stephanie Sinner, a marketing specialist, and Dave Nelson, state entomologist.

“Overall, it was a very successful trip in further strengthening our trade ties with Cuba,” Goehring said. “Members of our delegation said it exceeded their expectations.”

Goehring said negotiations for exporting North Dakota seed potatoes are moving forward.

“It appears that we are in the final discussions for getting signatures on the phytosanitary documents,” he said. “Our potato growers have donated and offered to ship 45,000 pounds of North Dakota potato varieties to Havana for planting trials. We hope to ship this in time for 2011 planting season.

Goehring said he learned that Cuba is looking to source dry distillers grains ((DDGs), sunflower seeds for oil and barley malt.

“We were very surprised to learn that the Cubans already use 140 to 160 metric tones of DGGs each year from various sources and they would like to source a portion of that from North Dakota,” Goehring said. “We are looking over the Cuban import specifications for supplying these DDGs from North Dakota. This could be a huge boost to our state’s ag exports.”

Goehring said the demand for oil sunflowers and barley malt is also exciting, since North Dakota dominates U.S. production of both crops. 

In addition to meeting with high level Cuban officials, the North Dakota delegation also met with officials from the U.S. Interest Section, which represents the U.S. State Department in Cuba.

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