North Dakota Snakes Our Cuba Deal

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After all that fuss over Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's trip to Cuba this spring, it looks like we might get the rug yanked out from under us by some wily North Dakotans.

Roger Johnson, the commissioner for agriculture for North Dakota, told BW this morning his state has a verbal agreement to sell 100 tons of North Dakota potatoes to Cuba.

Sneaky!

"We have a verbal agreement to work on a process," Johnson said.

In the next two months, Johnson said, his state will be working on making sure his state's potato production processes work to the satisfaction of the Cubans.

To that end, they'll be bringing in two Cuban agricultural inspectors to have a look at their fields and products, to be sure they're free of diseases and pests.

If all goes well, he said, they'll sell 100 tons of seed potatoes this fall to Cuba.

"As much as we can," Johnson said. "That is something that one would hope to ramp up over time."

Johnson wasn't ready to put a dollar value on the possible export.

Johnson was on a trip to Cuba May 21-24 with a North Dakota delegation.

That story was reported by New West this morning.

That's not all. According to Johnson's agency, the Cuban government is expected to sign an agreement to purchase 10,000 tons of North Dakota hard spring wheat.

“Negotiations are ongoing for the Cubans to buy North Dakota soybeans, corn and dried distillers grains, as well as soybean oil, soybean meal, barley malt and peas, lentils and beans” Johnson said.

The agrements came out of meetings with Pedro Alvarez, the president and CEO of Alimport, the Cuban food buying agency.

In addition to meeting with Alvarez, Johnson and the North Dakota delegation also had what Johnson said were “productive meetings” with leading officials of the Cuban ministries of foreign affairs and foreign trade.

Which would sort of put a damper on similar statements made by Otter, when he was discussing his trip to Cuba with local news reporters.

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