WASHINGTON — A statement from U.S. Grains Council (USGC) President and CEO Tom Sleight on changes to Cuba policy, announced Friday:
“The U.S. Grains Council (USGC) has worked in Cuba for nearly two decades to help capture grain demand and develop its livestock industry within the confines of U.S. policy. While the announcement today will make our efforts in Cuba more difficult – and almost certainly cost U.S. corn farmers sales in the short term – we have every intention of continuing our work there to build long-term, mutually-beneficial trade.
“In the first eight months of this marketing year, Cuba purchased more than 250,000 metric tons (9.8 million bushels) of corn from the United States, about 30 percent of their total demand. This shows both that Cubans want our product when its competitive to other origins and that we have significant room for growth given the right policy environment.
“The changes announced today are concerning because they could cut off these near-term sales while also stymieing the economic development that will drive long-term demand growth. Neither of those outcomes is favorable for the U.S. ag sector or the Cuban people, who do not have access to sufficient meat, milk and eggs.
“Cuba has historically been a 900,000 metric ton (35.4 million bushel) corn market; based on recent export sales, it would be our 11th largest customer if we could capture that demand. Free flow of grain to Cuba could also help us capture sales to the Dominican Republic and even Puerto Rico, an estimated $315 million in lost demand each year.
“In the past two years, our work in Cuba and with Cuban grain buyers has shown us that the only hindrance to progress there is U.S. policy. While we are concerned about the announcement today, we are steadfast in our support of the market and our Cuban customers.”
–U.S. Grains Council
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