Wednesday, April 19, 2006, 2:50 PM
by Lane McConnell and Tom Steever
Wednesday Governor Dave Heineman received a second memorandum of understanding worth $30 million in agricultural trade over the next 18 months.
“This is the second trade agreement we have signed with Cuba, $60 million in total. That is four times the amount than any other state has been able to achieve with Cuba,” said Governor Heineman. “We have worked very hard at this relationship with Cuba and have been pleased with the results.”
The governor has made agricultural exports to Cuba a priority since becoming governor last year. Cuba expects to fulfill its first $30 million MOU with Nebraska and begin work on its second. No other U.S. state has secured an MOU larger than $20 million. According to the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, details about the specific purchases and about other contracts under negotiation in Cuba will be released as they become available.
A 31 person Nebraska trade delegation met several times with Alimport Chairman Pedro Alvarez and his negotiators during the trade mission. Alvarez called the Governor to propose the new memorandum and to share news of the sales already achieved.
Also on the trip were Nebraska agricultural producers, as well as representatives of Nebraska ag cooperatives and companies, commodity organizations and Department of Agriculture staff members.
In 2005 alone, Cuba spent $540 million on American grown food, making Cuba one of the 30 largest export markets for U.S. agriculture.
The governor plans on being back in Cuba in seven months to further expand his relationship even more and would like to sign other agreements this fall.