Cuban millers meet Kansas farmers

Dodge City Daily Globe

By: Vincent Marshall

An informational exchange with a group of Cuban flour mill professionals will be hosted by Kansas Wheat this week.

The millers represent two of the six flour mills in Cuba and the even will allow these Cuban millers to experience Kansas farming and its wheat industry first hand.

Marcelo Mitre technical specialist from the USW Mexico City office will be traveling with the team.

The trip includes tours of the Kansas Wheat Innovation Center, the IGP Institute, the Hal Ross Flour Mill and the Kansas Grain Inspection Service.

Currently Cuba imports all its wheat needs, but is not importing any wheat from the United States because of challenges related to the US embargo.

For the marketing year 2015-16, total wheat imports from all origins are estimated at 800,000 metric tons or 29.4 million bushels.

"With current decade-low commodity prices and pressures on the US ag economy, we need to be fostering trade partners and relationships, not prohibiting them," said Jay Armstrong, Past Chairman of the Kansas Wheat Commission in a press release. "Despite many difficulties associated with the US trading with Cuba, it is apparent that we have a major transportation and logistical advantage in shipping, given Cuba's proximity to the United States.

"A level playing field with Canada and Europe is critical for US wheat farmers to fully realize their export potential to Cuba.

"Kansas wheat farmers support ending the embargo entirely."

The meeting started on Sept. 19 when Kansas Wheat joined Engage Cuba and other farm groups in launching the Engage Cuba Kansas State Council.

"Kansas wheat farmers are excited to be here today, to be founding members of the Engage Cuba Kansas State Council," said Armstrong. "By being members of this group, we can play an important role to influence significant decisions that have to be made before we can enjoy Cuba as a trading partner.

"We hope to continue strengthening these relationships, so that when the embargo is fully lifted, these friends will have the information they need to successfully incorporate US and Kansas wheat into their milling operations."