Ann Candler King | http://jacksonville.bizjournals.com
A shipment of 136 head of dairy cattle Saturday left Jacksonville for Cuba. It is the largest significant herd of U.S.-bred cattle sold to Cuba since the United States began its trade embargo against the country in 1962.
The herd, which left from the Jacksonville Port Authority, was set to arrived at the Port of Havana Monday, said Mark Miller spokesman for Crowley Liner Services in Jacksonville, which handled the shipping.
Because U.S. trade with Cuba is limited to specific products, primarily agriculture and pharmaceuticals, it represents a small percentage of the Jacksonville Port Authority’s total trade volume, and American companies compete with suppliers from countries with embargo-free trade agreements with Cuba, including Honduras, France, Canada and Spain.
“Cuba still represents a small percentage of cargo moving through Jacksonville’s harbor, only about one percent, because federal laws limit the types of cargoes which can be shipped there,” said port spokesman Robert Peek.
The animals were purchased from various U.S. companies by Alimport, the Cuban government’s food import company, and shipped under the agricultural export exception to the Cuban embargo, a news release said. The livestock shipment agreements were worked out during the U.S. Food and Agribusiness Exhibition Trade Fair last year in Havana.
Based on those agreements, Crowley expects to handle additional livestock shipments for the foreseeable future, according to the release.
In 2001, Crowley became the first U.S. carrier to obtain a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control to provide regularly scheduled common carrier services for licensed cargo from the United States to Cuba, and in December 2001 became the first carrier to call directly on Cuba from the United States in 40 years.
Since then, the company has shipped to Cuba such cargoes as frozen poultry, apples, grocery store products, dry food commodities, playground equipment, cotton, lumber and other humanitarian goods.
Cuba is now part of Crowley’s regular sailing schedule and receives a port call every 10 days from Jacksonville and every other week from Gulfport.