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State of Iowa looking to trade with Cuba

Corn and soy among the commodities that could be traded

By Diego Flammini,

There’s videos all over the internet of large, intricate and complex domino displays, some with tens of thousands of dominoes falling in every which way.

They twist and turn and continue to fall, but every video starts the same way – with one domino falling.

In terms of agricultural trade relations with the United States and Cuba, the state of Iowa is trying to be the first domino.

Senator Steve Sodders, a Democrat representing State Center, introduced Senate Resolution 5, that talks about an enhanced trade partnership between Iowa and Cuba.

Currently, almost 80% of Cuba’s imports are agriculture-related because of the poor farming conditions in the country.

“We want to show [Iowa’s] a welcoming place, [and] we want to work with [Cuba] in case at the federal level they really do open things up,” Sodders told The Daily Iowan.

Iowa leads the United States in corn production and is second in the country in soybean production and sees this as an opportunity to expand their economy and create a huge market for farmers, but there’s one glaring issue – an embargo.

Since about 1960, the United States has had a trade embargo with Cuba, meaning there’s been very limited trade between the two countries in 55 years. US President Barack Obama is trying to ease the tension between the two nations.

Representatives from Iowa are planning a trip to Cuba to talk more about the possibility of trading, but only Congress can lift the trade restrictions.

Cuba is currently able to buy goods but since the 2000s, they must pay for the goods before they get shipped.

“We did have some shipments, but with the restrictions with how they bought it [with cash] created barriers,” Russell Meade, a corn farmer and president of the Johnson County Farm Bureau said to The Daily Iowan. “If we can reduce restrictions with trade, we always feel like it’s positive for Iowa and the United States.”

In 2014, the United States exported almost $300 million of goods to Cuba.

USA and Cuba

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