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Posted November 08, 2003 by publisher in Cuba-US Trade

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By JIM GRANSBERY | billingsgazette.com

Cubans will enjoy pinto beans from Montana and Wyoming for Christmas because a Billings businessman sealed a contract this week.

The deal calls for 6.6 million pounds of dry beans from the Yellowstone Bean Co. to be on a barge to Cuba by Dec. 15, said Jim Stinehagen, YBC owner. The contract is worth about $1.5 million and could be just the beginning, he said. The contract is the first to result from a recent trip to Cuba by a Montana agricultural trade delegation led by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Rep. Dennis Rehberg, R-Mont. The September journey garnered a Cuban promise of a $10 million purchase of Montana agriculture products.

“I’ve been working on this for quite a while,” Stinehagen said. “The politicians got involved, and it moved fairly rapidly.”
Erv Schlemmer, a bean and sugar beet producer from Fromberg, was on the trip to Cuba. He was the one who got the ball rolling, Stinehagen said.
“This is a nice start,” he said. “The best position is from our facility in Corpus Christi, Texas.”

The deal went fast, about a week of negotiation.

“I got on the phone a 5 a.m. Tuesday and by 7:30 it was done,” he said.

Yellowstone Bean Co. has elevators at Bridger, Terry and Powell, Wyo. The company has bought and sold about 40 million pounds of pinto beans a year over the recent seasons.

Stinehagen contracts with about 250 farmers in Montana and Northern Wyoming in the Yellowstone River Basin. He ships his beans, cleaned and ready for market, by rail to Texas.

The order requires 34 railroad hopper cars and will go to Corpus Christi, where the beans will be sacked and loaded on barges bound for Cuba by Dec. 15.

Although U.S. sanctions against the communist island 90 miles from Florida continue, a 2000 congressional exception allows U.S. producers to sell products to Cuba on a cash basis.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on June 22, 2004 by enriqueta cisneros

    I need all info about US-Cuba trade agreements (the ones just made) Im a reporter. Thanks

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