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Posted November 13, 2005 by crp236 in US Embargo

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Iowa corn purchased by Cuba


JOHNSTON - Cuba, now a significant market for U.S. corn, is nearing a new purchasing milestone, according to representatives of the Iowa Corn Promotion Board. Gary Woodley, from the ICPB’s grain trade committee, and Don Mason, ICPB staff, said FCStone, a Des Moines-based commodity risk management and trading company, has sold nearly $100 million worth of commodities to Cuba since trade rules were eased in 2000.

“As corn producers, we’ve been well aware of the potential in this market,” Mason said. “Our checkoff has worked since 1998 to build Cuban contacts that lead to Iowa corn sales.”

Chris Aberle, FCStone’s director of sales, said the ICPB’s ongoing participation in trade fairs and missions has been especially valuable in Cuba, where many normal avenues for building business relationships are blocked. Most recently, Mason and Woodley shared a booth with Aberle at the 23rd Havana International Fair.

“Cooperation and relationships are essential under these conditions,” said Aberle, who sold nearly $8 million worth of corn. “Without them, we just wouldn’t have seen our commodity sales to Cuba grow the way they have.” He noted that the U.S. Treasury Department still requires Cuba to pay for products before they leave a U.S. port. “This has slowed the whole process. When shipments are delayed over a letter of credit, it costs U.S. shippers and Cuban buyers hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Woodley echoed Aberle’s comments: “Transportation issues and export rules are making it riskier for companies like FCStone to do business in Cuba. That creates a threat to our corn exports in a time when we need to build markets, not discourage them.”

Cuba has purchased more than 550 million bushels of U.S. corn since 2001 and was the 15th largest U.S. export customer last market year.

The ICPB’s Cuba initiative began in 1998, when the checkoff participated in a humanitarian mission to donate livestock feed to Cuba. Since then, the checkoff has hosted key Cuban trade leaders in Iowa, and ICPB representatives have participated in exploratory missions and food and agribusiness exhibitions in Cuba.

Daily Nonpareil 2005

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