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The Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA) is partnering with the Nebraska Soybean Board to find sources of soybeans in the state for shipment to Cuba.

NDA and Soybean Board officials returned from a trade mission to Cuba this week, where the purchase of significant quantities of Nebraska soybeans was discussed with representatives of the Cuban import authority, Alimport. NDA Director Greg Ibach said talks with Cuban officials are ongoing and plans are being formulated to sell soybeans from farmer-owned cooperatives in Nebraska.

"I am pleased that Cuban officials are considering Nebraska soybeans for this significant contract," said Ibach. "We look forward to facilitating discussions in order to complete the deal. One of our immediate tasks is to identify businesses that can source Nebraska soybeans."

Producers, producer cooperatives and other businesses that are interested in selling Nebraska- sourced soybeans to Cuba should contact the Nebraska Soybean Board at (402) 441-3240.

Gregg Fujan, Chairman of the Nebraska Soybean Board and Weston farmer, said Cuba currently purchases approximately 660,000 bushels of soybeans per month from the United States. Fujan said under the plan being negotiated, these soybeans would be sourced from Nebraska, moved by train to the Gulf of Mexico and loaded on ships bound for Cuba.

"This represents a great opportunity for Nebraska farmers to develop direct access to the Cuban market," Fujan said.

Soybean Board Member Greg Anderson said Cuba annually purchases 216,000 metric tons of soybeans. "This represents over 3 percent of Nebraska's annual production," Anderson said. He said the soybeans are processed in Santiago, Cuba, and used throughout the country for poultry and livestock feed.

Ibach said the ongoing negotiations for soybeans reflect Governor Dave Heineman's goal of establishing a long-term trading partnership with Cuba.

"The relationship that has been forged with Alimport will help ensure these types of opportunities for the future," Ibach said.

Source: Southwest Nebraska News

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