Associated Press

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A lumber company will begin shipments to Cuba this month, becoming the first American company to sell wood to the communist nation since 1958, company officials said Monday.

Lanahan Lumber Co. has orders for 350 containers of southern yellow pine, the company said. The first shipments of 25 containers will be taken from Jacksonville and Gulfport, Miss., to Havana within the next two weeks and will continue twice a month for the next six months.

“We are very excited to announce this partnership with Cuba and to be the first in almost 43 years to create such a partnership,” said company president Michael Lanahan, who visited the Cuba six times last year to secure the orders.

The Jacksonville-based company has the potential to ship nearly 800 containers of lumber to Cuba over the next year.

The lumber will be used in Cuba to rebuild farm houses that were destroyed by hurricanes and to build pallets to move wheat and other grain shipped from U.S. farms, the company said.

The lumber sales are permitted by the U.S. Trade Act and authorized by the Department of Treasury.

A 2000 U.S. law allows American food sales as an exception to the four-decade-old embargo against Cuba. The first contract was signed on Dec. 16, 2001, and since then Cuba has contracted to buy more than $200 million in American food.