Michigan growers want access to Cuban consumers

Jan 21, 2015

Michigan Agri-Business Association CEO Jim Byrum says the state produces more black beans than any other state - making Cubans, with their love of black bean dishes - a natural for agricultural trade.
Credit Wikipedia

Michigan agriculture producers say it's time to lift the trade embargo against Cuba.

They say Cuba is an untapped market for Michigan's black beans, fruits, milk and other products.

Dave Armstrong is CEO of GreenStone Farm Credit.

"Foreign competitors like Canada, Brazil, the European Union and Argentina – which don't have such restrictions – are taking U.S. and Michigan market share," says Dave Armstrong, CEO of Greenstone Farm Credit.

Jim Byrum is President of the Michigan Agri-Business Association.

"We (Michigan) are the largest producer of black beans in the nation. Black beans are a staple in the Cuban diet," he says. "They're buying them from China, Brazil. That's a market we ought to have. The Cubans love fruit. Last I checked, Michigan's a pretty dramatic producer of things like apples and cherries and blueberries and other fruit products."

Obama administration officials are in Cuba this week to discuss normalizing diplomatic relations.

It would take action on the part of Congress, however, to lift the trade embargo and allow U.S. companies to freely sell and buy goods in Cuba.