USSEC Applauds Announcement of Checkoff Funds to be used for Cuban Activity

On March 21, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack made an announcement enabling checkoff funds to be used for market expansion in Cuba.

Although U.S. agriculture exports to Cuba have been allowed since the Trade Sanctions Reform Act (TSRA) of 2000, limitations kept exports from reaching their full potential. In the most recent marketing year, the U.S. exported 1 million bushels of U.S. soybeans and 6 million bushels of U.S. soybean meal to Cuba.

“U.S. farmers are looking forward to expanding the Cuban market for U.S. Soy, and so the USDA’s announcement is a very positive milestone. USSEC now has a great opportunity to explore the Cuban marketplace, ultimately building a preference for U.S. Soy. Cuba is seeing an increased demand for pork, poultry and eggs, and we are also optimistic that USSEC can help develop a market for U.S. soybean oil.”

Laura Foell - USSEC Chairman

“The U.S. has been losing market share in Cuba [due to the embargo] for soybeans and soybean meal and has completely lost the soybean oil market to Brazil and to Argentina, to an extent, in a market that should be more than an 80 percent U.S. market share.” He adds, “We are in a similar situation for grains.”

Francisco de la Torre - USSEC Americas Regional Representative

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The preferred vegetable oil in Cuba, as in most of Latin America is soy; the country’s current oil supply, however, comes from Brazil. USSEC has had success in other Latin American countries in building a preference for U.S. soybean oil and will now have opportunities to showcase the benefits of U.S. soybean oil, both the quality and the supply, and build further demand through working with food companies, processors and end-users in Cuba.
In the past few years, USSEC has done some limited work in the island nation. About four years ago, the organization used industry funding to conduct a market assessment mission, followed by a feed formulation educational seminar there two years ago. USSEC expects these efforts to pay dividends as the trade restrictions are lifted.