LOUISIANA STATE COUNCIL

Randy Haynie, President
Haynie & Associates

Jonathan Hobbs, 
Rice Export Logistics,
Russell Marine Group

Pres Kabacoff, CEO
HRI Properties

Caitlin Cain, CEO
World Trade Center of New Orleans

Brandy Christian, President
Port of New Orleans

Dr. Ana Lopez, Director
Tulane University Cuban & Caribbean Studies Institute

Cesar Martino, Director
Intl. Cuba Society,
Owner, Vega Group

Saul Newsome, Attorney
Breazeale Sachse & Wilson, LLP

Mike Olivier, CEO,
Committee of 100

John Owen, Rice Farmer
Northeast Louisiana Rice Growers Association

Bill Rase, Executive Director
Port of Lake Charles

Mike Strain, Commissioner
Louisiana Department of Agriculture

John Suarez, Financial Advisor
Merrill Lynch

Robert Trahan, Rice Miller
Falcon Rice Mill

Robert Verchick, Environmental Law Chair
Loyola University

James Warshaw, Rice Miller
Farmers Rice Milling Co.

Dr. Aaron Wolfson, Clinical Psychologist
Jefferson Neurobehavioral Group

Lenny Wormser, Senior Managing Director
Latter & Blum

Avery J. Davidson, Assistant Director of Information & PR
Louisiana Farm Bureau

Buck Gladden, President
Gladden Sales LLC

ROBERT BRIGNAC, PE, DIRECTOR OF ENGINEERING
BRAEDEN ENGINEERING

Joe Accardo, Executive Director
Ports Association of Louisiana

Paul Aucoin, Executive Director
Port of South Louisiana

Kevin Berken, Rice Farmer
Southern Louisiana

Ken Bickford, President
Chappapeela Development Corporation

Dr. Pierre Buekens, Dean
Tulane School of Public Health

Joe Morris Doss, President
the Threshold

Mary Dumestre, Attorney
Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann LLC

Ken Duncan, Attorney/Consultant/Businessman,
Former Louisiana State Treasurer

Alina Fernandez, President
Cuba Travel-USA

Michael Fruge, Rice Farmer
Central Louisiana Rice Growers Association

Betsie GambeL, President
Gambel Communications

Annie Gibson, Professor
Tulane Department of Global Education

Sergio Girau, Vice Presidnt, Principal Engineer
Lin eld Hunter & Junius Inc.

Romi Gonzales, Chairman,
Intl. Cuba Society, 
Attorney, Braden Gonzales & Associates

John Haffner, President
Cuba Trade and Travel

Jay Hakes, Former Head
US Energy Information Administration

Bobby Hanks, CEO
Louisiana Rice Milling Co.

Meryl Kennedy Farr
Kennedy Rice Mill, LLC, 
Planters Rice Mill, LLC

José Cot, Attorney/Partner
Hurley & Cot, APLC

Holden Hoggatt, President
Hoggatt Law Group

Don Pierson, Louisiana Secretary
of Economic Development


ABC-Baton Rouge: Agricultural Trade Mission to Cuba

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M., recently returned from the island nation of Cuba, where he led a 94-person delegation promoting agricultural trade, economic development and tourism.“We accomplished a great deal during our short visit to Cuba, including opening a dialog with Cuban officials and developing business relationships,” Strain said. “Also, we have a better understanding of what the country’s needs are - and how Louisiana can fulfill those needs - by visiting places such as an organic farm, tobacco and corn farm, farmers market, grocery store and the port in Mariel.

 

New Orleans CityBusiness: South Louisiana ports prepare for possible rekindling of Cuban relations

Engage Cuba, a bipartisan coalition of private businesses and organizations striving to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba, launched its Louisiana State Council today in Baton Rouge.The council is composed of agricultural, port, community and business leaders around the state asking for an end to the trade embargo. The group advocates that doing so will benefit Louisiana’s interests and support the Cuban people. Under President Barack Obama’s administration, tension has eased between the United States and its geographically close communistic country, which has been isolated from the U.S. for decades.

 

The Advocate: Ending Cuba Embargo Offers Opportunities for Louisiana Farm, Petrochem and Tourism Industries, Coalition Says

Williams’ comments came before a panel discussion and news conference launching Engage Cuba’s Louisiana State Council, whose members include agricultural, port, community and business leaders. About 30 people attended the launch.The ban’s end has drawn little opposition in Louisiana. Last year, a 75-member delegation of business people, attorneys and educators spent a week in Cuba in an effort to re-establish ties broken after the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

 

NEW ORLEANS ADVOCATE: LOUISIANA AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN LEADS 94-MEMBER TRADE MISSION TO CUBA

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain is flying out of New Orleans on Tuesday morning as the head of a 94-member trade mission to Cuba. The goal of the weeklong trip is to begin the agreements that will lead to Louisiana exporting rice, poultry and grains to the communist nation. President Barack Obama recently eased dealings with the country after a half-century of tense relations. “It’s important that we get our boots on the ground,” Strain said Monday. “It is important we are there. It’s going to be a competitive environment.”

 

WBRZ ABC (BATON ROUGE): CUBA COULD BE POWERFUL TRADE ALLY FOR BAYOU STATE

Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Commissioner Mike Strain, D.V.M. just returned from a visit to the island nation of Cuba where he led a delegation to promote agricultural trade, economic development and tourism. “We accomplished a great deal during our short visit to Cuba, including opening a dialog with Cuban officials and developing business relationships,” Strain said. “Also, we have a better understanding of what the country’s needs are - and how Louisiana can fulfill those needs - by visiting places such as an organic farm, tobacco and corn farm, farmers market, grocery store and the port in Mariel.” “Trade barriers between the U.S. and Cuba could be relaxed in the near future,” continued Strain. “It is critical to establish these important business relationships now in order to gain access to new market opportunities for our Louisiana agricultural producers when it does.”

 

AP: COALITION: ENDING CUBA EMBARGO WOULD HELP LA. FARMERS

James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a coalition of businesses and organizations that wants to end the ban, touted the possible trade benefits before a news conference the coalition held Thursday to launch Engage Cuba’s Louisiana State Council.Williams says that prior to the embargo, New Orleans had been the most significant port trading with Cuba because of the large amount of rice Louisiana produces and the high quantities of rice that Cubans consume.

 

WBRZ ABC (BATON ROUGE): PROMOTING ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT FOR LA., GROUP SEEKS TO END CUBAN EMBARGO

"Our Louisiana State Council is another example of the momentum in support of lifting the Cuban embargo and opening travel with one of our closest neighbors," said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba. "Louisiana and Cuba have a long history of doing business, and lifting the Cuban embargo would only open up opportunities for Louisiana's economy – from ports to farms – in order to support the Cuban people. It's time to end 50 years of failed, isolationist policies towards Cuba."

 

FOX NEWS LATINO: PRESIDENT OBAMA URGES BUSINESS LEADERS TO PRESS CONGRESS TO LIFT CUBA EMBARGO

"For too long, a small minority of status quo defenders sidelined the voices of the vast majority of the American people who support a change in U.S.-Cuba policy,’ said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba, in a statement. ‘Engage Cuba will work on the ground in the states to ensure elected officials in Washington know where their constituents stand.’ Engage Cuba says it plans to develop state-level coalitions to press members of Congress to lift the U.S.-Cuba trade and travel ban. The group says it will be implementing its grassroots campaign through local media, polling and advertisements. The first sites will be in Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas and Ohio.” 

 

TIMESFREEPRESS.COM: TENNESSEE COUNCIL JOINS EFFORT TO END U.S.-CUBA TRADE EMBARGO

Engage Cuba held a round table discussion with the leaders and announced the formation of a 15-member Tennessee State Council, representing an array of sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, business and the arts. Engage Cuba President James Williams said the group plans to form similar councils in Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio and Texas. "The idea of what we’re trying to do here is to show that this is a relative issue and not just for Washington, but for people all across the country," Williams told The Associated Press before the meeting.

 

TIMES FREE PRESS: TENNESSEE COUNCIL JOINS EFFORT TO END U.S.-CUBA TRADE EMBARGO

Engage Cuba held a round table discussion with the leaders and announced the formation of a 15-member Tennessee State Council, representing an array of sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, business and the arts. Engage Cuba President James Williams said the group plans to form similar councils in Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Ohio and Texas. "The idea of what we’re trying to do here is to show that this is a relative issue and not just for Washington, but for people all across the country," Williams told The Associated Press before the meeting.

 

THE TIMES-PICAYUNE: SAILBOAT DIPLOMACY: NEW ORLEANS SAILORS BLOW INTO HAVANA WITH HISTORIC RACE

“The skippers and crew -- most hailing from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle -- had raced more than 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico for the privilege of sailing their boats into U.S.-Cuban diplomatic history.”

 

GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT: CRACKING THE CUBAN MARKET: LAND OF OPPORTUNITY FOR LOUISIANA

“There are plenty of Louisiana business sectors that could benefit from improved relations with Cuba.”

 

THE ADVERTISER: HERE'S HOW CUBA CAN HELP LOUISIANA FLOURISH

“The country is only 700 miles from Louisiana’s coast, making it prime for convenient trade especially from the Port of New Orleans, LaGrange said. There’s talk of a Cuban consulate being built in the U.S. and New Orleans may be vying against Tampa, Florida, as a host city, he said.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Advocate: President Trump's stance on Cuba trade comes with high stakes for Louisiana, ag chief Mike Strain says

While the Obama administration appeared to be moving closer toward normalizing relations with Cuba, in part by allowing commercial flights and opening up tourism opportunities, President Trump has signaled some resistance to building on the relationship. In November, he threatened to roll back Obama's actions, tweeting "If Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole, I will terminate deal." Last month, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer announced the administration was conducting a "full review" of the U.S.'s relationship with Cuba. Trump has similarly been critical of other U.S. trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, and he withdrew the nation from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade agreement negotiated under Obama which included Canada and Mexico. 

THE TOWN TALK: LOUISIANA CAN GET 'LION'S SHARE' OF CUBA TRADE

Cuba imports $2 billion or more in food each year. Louisiana's commissioner of agriculture, Mike Strain, thinks the state is positioned to grab a large share of that. "We want at least $500 million of that," said Strain, who was in Alexandria Monday for the Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce Business Expo. "When you look at the potential, this is a tremendous opportunity we have." The continuing normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba has opened up the potential for American farmers to provide a large portion of the imported food Cubans needs to survive.

 

BUSINESS REPORT: LOUISIANA AG COMMISSIONER MIKE STRAIN ON THE STATE’S RELATIONSHIP WITH CUBA
 

The possibility of the United States lifting its trade embargo on Cuba has Louisiana officials brimming with optimism. The communist nation, on which the U.S. government placed an embargo in 1960, imports billions of dollars worth of food every year to feed its 11 million people. Its capital, Havana, is just several hundred miles away from New Orleans. Mike Strain, Louisiana’s commissioner of agriculture and forestry, has led the charge on trade talks with the country, developing relationships with Cuban officials on two separate trips in the past few months, most recently with a group that included Gov. John Bel Edwards. Business Report asked Strain, a Republican, why he sees such a lucrative market for Louisianans and how officials from the Pelican State have been received in Havana.

 

TIMES-PICAYUNE: LOUISIANA AND CUBA ARE NATURAL TRADING PARTNERS: MIKE STRAIN AND JOE ACCARDO

While the Cuban government should ease regulations to allow the growth of U.S. companies investing there, the United States should open up trade with Cuba. Louisiana can be at the forefront of doing business with Cuba to take advantage of opportunities from more agricultural exports, trade that would benefit Louisiana's extensive port system and potential growth of the tourism and cruise industry. When you're in New Orleans, you're twice as close to Havana as you are to New York City. Prior to the trade embargo, Louisiana had a flourishing trade relationship with Cuba through multiple state ports on the lower Mississippi River and Lake Charles, where most of our rice was exported.

 

KATC-ABC: Cuban Connection: Agricultural Delegation Takes a Historic Flight

Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture, Mike Strain, led a group of 94 Louisianans on a trade mission to Cuba. The delegation, comprised primarily of Louisiana farmers, traveled to Cuba in an effort to forge future trade deals with the country. The mission comes in the wake of the Obama administration’s goal to normalize relations with Cuba. They traveled to Havana to assess current trade opportunities and to meet with Cuban officials,with hopes to land trade deals just in case current trade restrictions are lifted further.

 

THE ADVOCATE: LOUISIANA ALLIANCE FOR CUBA HOLDING WORKSHOPS ON ESTABLISHING TRADE WITH CUBA

Louisiana Álliance for Cuba will host a series of workshops from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on June 22 at Gallier Hall in New Orleans at 545 St. Charles Ave. for companies and executives interested in establishing trade with Cuba. Breakout sessions will offer insights on Cuba’s infrastructure, culture and economy, as well as individual sectors like mining, agriculture and hospitality, and the legal framework for doing business on the island.

 

The Advocate: Our Views: Cuba is poor but a new market for Louisiana

While legal and political barriers remain, mere geography is on the side of Louisiana's exporters when it comes to trade with Cuba. A series of trade promotion trips is therefore underway involving Louisiana businessmen and officials, seeking to build relationships before what is seen as the inevitable lifting of the U.S. trade embargo on the Communist-governed island. The latest group included rice farmers, eager to sell to a North American country that now imports much of its rice from Vietnam.

 

The News Star: Strain: Lots of Potential in Trade with Cuba

Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Mike Strain believes Cuba's impoverished economy brings an extraordinary opportunity for Louisiana agriculture. "Cuba imports 80 percent of their food.  And why are they in trouble?  They don't have the money to do it," he said.  Strain spoke to the Rotary Club of Monroe on Thursday about his recent trip to Cuba to discuss trade possibilities.

 

SHIP-TECHNOLOGY.COM: PORT OF SOUTH LOUISIANA TO SIGN DEAL WITH CUBA'S NPAC IN OCTOBER

The Port Of South Louisiana is planning to enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the National Port Administration (NPAC) of Cuba in order to promote commerce and growth in both countries. The proposed deal is the outcome of a recent visit made by Port of South Louisiana representatives and other representatives from Louisiana export facilities, rice growers, shipping businesses, as well as bankers and members of the Louisiana state legislature and Louisiana Economic Development to Cuba. A year and a half ago, Cuba began operations at its new Port of Mariel on the western part of the country.

 

AMERICAN JOURNAL OF TRANSPORTATION: PORT OF SOUTH LOUISIANA PARTAKES IN LOUISIANA TRADE MISSION TO CUBA

Last week, Port of South Louisiana Executive Director Paul G. Aucoin along with Commission President D. Paul Robichaux, Commission Treasurer P. Joey Murray, III, and Commission Secretary Stanley Bazile returned from a 94-member trade mission to Cuba led by Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture, Mike Strain. The trade mission delegation was comprised of representatives from Louisiana export facilities, rice growers, shipping businesses, and bankers, plus members of the State of Louisiana Legislature and Louisiana Economic Development. During the week-long visit, trade mission delegates toured the new Port of Mariel, located on the western part of Cuba. This state-of-the art container port began operations a year-and-a-half ago and it is equipped with top-of-the line computers, equipment, and technology. Port of Mariel officials offered their expertise and assistance to the Port of South Louisiana when it moves forward with establishing a container facility within its jurisdiction.

 

TIMES-PICAYUNE: PORT OF SOUTH LOUISIANA OFFICIALS RETURN FROM CUBA TRADE MISSION TRIP

Last week, Port of South Louisiana Executive Director Paul G. Aucoin along with Commission President D. Paul Robichaux, Commission Treasurer P. Joey Murray, III, and Commission Secretary Stanley Bazile returned from a 94-member trade mission to Cuba led by Louisiana Commissioner of Agriculture, Mike Strain. The trade mission delegation was comprised of representatives from Louisiana export facilities, rice growers, shipping businesses, and bankers, plus members of the State of Louisiana Legislature and Louisiana Economic Development. During the week-long visit, trade mission delegates toured the new Port of Mariel, located on the western part of Cuba.

 

Prensa Latina: Agricultural Delegation from Louisiana, USA, Travels to Cuba

Washington, Jul 12 (Prensa Latina) Commissioner for Agriculture in Louisiana Mike Strain heads a commercial delegation that traveled today to Cuba to negotiate a potential export of food to this country. The Cuban Embassy in the United States posted on its social networks the visit of Strain along with 94 representatives from the agricultural field, seeking to achieve a business trade with Cuba, valued at $400 million USD. Strain said that it is important to land and be in Cuba because a very competitive scenario is coming. He praised the quality of the rice grown in Louisiana and highlighted the favorable proximity of that region for the Cuban market, although he did not mentioned the economic, financial and commercial blockade set by the United States since 1962 and recently strengthened.

 

Greater Baton Rouge Business Report: Emerging Latin American Markets Seek More Louisiana Business with Incentives

Jack Jensen has seen plenty of changes since he set up shop as an importer more than 30 years ago at the Port of New Orleans. During that time, lowered trade barriers, improved infrastructure and technological advances have made doing business in Latin America cheaper and more practical. In the early days, Jensen focused his attention on Central America for importing produce and agricultural products, then later began buying and transporting Brazilian granite. Today, operating as Jensen Cos., he is one of the largest importers of granite in the U.S.

 

AP, TAMPA BAY TIMES: LOUISIANA LAWMAKERS ENCOURAGE TRADE RELATIONS WITH CUBA

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana's lawmakers are pushing trade talks with Cuba, now that President Barack Obama has moved to normalize relations with the island nation.

The House and Senate have passed a legislative resolution urging the state economic development department to "develop and improve" trade relations with Cuba, within the limits of state and federal law.

 

TALK 107.3: FREE TRADE WITH CUBA COULD MEAN BILLION$ FOR LOUISIANA

State Agriculture Commissioner Dr. Mike Strain chats with Kevin & Bill on “A.M. BATON ROUGE” about opening up trade with Cuba and what it could mean for Louisiana’s agriculture industry. A group of congressman is going to Cuba this week on a trade mission. Strain plans another trip this summer.

 

GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT: LOUISIANA COMPANIES CONTEMPLATE NEW BUSINESS PROSPECTS WITH CUBA

“But the relationship between the United States and Cuba is beginning to thaw. If that warming trend continues, Louisiana businesses will have a chance to profit from change.” 

 

GREATER BATON ROUGE BUSINESS REPORT: LOUISIANA COMPANIES CONTEMPLATE NEW BUSINESS PROSPECTS WITH CUBA

“But the relationship between the United States and Cuba is beginning to thaw. If that warming trend continues, Louisiana businesses will have a chance to profit from change.” 

 

THE TIMES-PICAYUNE: LOUISIANA RICE FARMERS HOPE TO CASH IN ON TRADE WITH CUBA, NEWSPAPER REPORTS

“Rice farmers in Louisiana are hoping to cash in on trade with Cuba, capitalizing inexpensive transport between the two places and a Cuban preference for rice grown here, according to The Shreveport Times.”

Louisiana's Champions

Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D. (R) Representing Louisiana 5th District Co-Sponsor of H.R. 3238 Cuba Trade Act 2015 and H.R. 3687 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Congressman Ralph Abraham, M.D. (R)

Representing Louisiana 5th District

Co-Sponsor of H.R. 3238 Cuba Trade Act 2015 and H.R. 3687 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act