The Associated Press
Havana - U.S. farm representatives hoping to build long-term trade relationships with communist Cuba were traveling here Monday for talks island officials say could lead to as much as $100 million in new sales.
More than 300 people representing about 150 producers of American farm goods were expected at the three-day event beginning Tuesday afternoon, Cuban authorities said.
Among farm interests participating is the USA Rice Federation, which represents about 85 percent of U.S. producers.
“The importance of Cuba in terms of rice is huge for us - it’s huge for them,” said federation representative Marvin Leherer. “We’re committed to a long term relationship with Cuba.
“Cuba was the No. 1 market for American rice prior to sanctions,” he added, referring to U.S. trade restrictions imposed more than four decades ago.
Also among those scheduled to participate in the talks were Cargill Inc., of Minnetonka, Minn.; Archer Daniels Midland of Decatur, Ill.; and Kaehler’s Homedale Farms in St. Charles, Minn.
The talks are organized by the Cuban food import company Alimport, which arranged a similar round of talks in December to mark the second anniversary of the first U.S. commercial food shipments to post-revolutionary Cuba.