The heads of four national U.S. poultry and egg organizations will lead a delegation representing the poultry, egg and U.S. soybean industries to Cuba for a fact-finding trade mission Sept. 27-30. Last week I traveled to Cuba with an agricultural media delegation and spent our time immersed in Cuban culture and agriculture. I am still regaining my wits and can’t wait to share all my photos and information gathered.
Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council; Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council; Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation, and Anne Alonzo, president and CEO of the American Egg Board, will be among the group on the Cuba mission.
The multi-commodity mission will be the first foray into Cuba funded entirely by the soybean checkoff program since the U.S. began normalizing relations with the country earlier this year.
In March, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that USDA would permit 22 industry-funded agricultural research and promotion programs to use checkoff funds to conduct authorized research and information-exchange activities in Cuba.
Since the U.S. government authorized limited exports of U.S. agricultural products to Cuba in 2000, it has become the fourth-leading export destination for U.S. poultry by volume. Also, the poultry and egg industry consumes more than half of the soybean meal produced in the U.S.
The Illinois Soybean Association checkoff program and the Iowa Soybean Association, funded by the soybean checkoff, are backing the mission, which will focus on assessing the potential for greater U.S. agricultural trade as relations between the U.S. and Cuba continue to develop.
While in Cuba, the delegation will meet with representatives from the Cuban poultry, egg and soybean industries to gain a greater understanding of Cuba’s food distribution system and to discuss issues such as biosecurity, food safety and nutrition.