SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - Farm leaders say Cuba wants to buy at least $10 million of agricultural products from South Dakota.
Making that happen will take persistence and patience, said Gary Duffy, president of the South Dakota Value-Added Agricultural Center.
Agricultural and business leaders met in Huron recently after a trade mission to the Caribbean nation. Duffy said he hopes South Dakota farm products will be on their way to Cuba within a year.
The Trade Sanctions Reform Act passed by Congress in 2000 allowed American farmers to sell directly to Cuba on a cash basis, although some restrictions remain in place.
Since then, the country has purchased more than $750 million worth of American agricultural products.
American businesses wanting to trade with Cuba must first apply to the U.S. government for a license. Once contracts are signed with Alimport, Cuba’s trading company, Cuban funds are deposited in a French bank, converted to Euros and paid to the U.S. business.
Duffy said businesses wanting to trade with Cuba should prepare for tough bargaining. He said South Dakota will be competing against other states and countries, and the Cubans know what they want and what they’ll pay.