Opening of trade door may whet Cuba's appetite for Midwest farm goods


Agricultural businesses are among those cheering President Obama's announcement that the U.S. is restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Twin Cities-based Cargill, one of the biggest food companies in the U.S., has long lobbied for an end to the trade embargo that's been in place more than 50 years. A statement from Cargill hailed the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations, saying:

“It will create a new market for U.S. farmers, ranchers and food companies, and give the Cuban people improved access to affordable food.”

A Cargill vice-president tells MPR News that President Obama's executive order is a historical moment but notes that an act of Congress is required to fully repeal the trade embargo.

Even so, visions of free trade with the island nation of 11 million are dancing in the heads of agribusinesses.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota points out that Cuba imports 80 percent of the food it rations to the public and the country's diet is heavy in products grown in the Upper Midwest.

Beans top the list of commodities likely to find a fertile market in Cuba. The Grand Forks Herald says Cubans are big consumers of black beans and currently get much of their supply from Canada and China.

Among U.S. states, North Dakota is tops in production of dry edible beans, while Minnesota ranks fourth, the Herald reports.

U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan called the normalization of diplomatic relations a monumental step and the Associated Press reports the Minnesota Democrat says he hopes to travel to Cuba next year.

Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, on the other hand, called the move inexplicable and told MPR News: "Until Cuba changes (its) ways, there's no reason for the United States to change its policy."

It would probably be hard to find a Minnesotan happier about Wednesday's news than longtime Twins star Tony Oliva. The Pioneer Press notes that Oliva, who won the Rookie of the Year award with the 1964 Twins, was one of the last Cuban ballplayers to arrive in the U.S. without having to defect.

Next Up

moose minnesota usfws - flickr

MN homeowner mistakes large tent for dead moose

They spotted two people on a security camera dragging the "moose" across a driveway.

Flickr - minneapolis police officer close-up belt camera - Tony Webster

What happens if Mpls. public safety question passes? City memo provides answers

The memo was sent to the mayor and council members Tuesday morning.


COVID-19 hits Minnesota Wild coaching staff

The Wild will be shorthanded for Tuesday night's game in Vancouver.

Anthony Edwards

Ant takes alpha role after bad loss: 'We need to lock the f*** in'

The Timberwolves' rising star was not happy after Monday's loss to the Pelicans.

parker eisinger

Lakeville football player diagnosed with cancer week before playoffs

The tenth-grader was diagnosed with a form of cancer most commonly found in people aged 65 and older.

University of Minnesota peeping tom suspect

Someone keeps trying to film showering women at U of M

The university has received three reports in the past two weeks.

john Fluevog shoes 1

John Fluevog Shoes closes its Uptown Minneapolis store

The brand could return to the Twin Cities one day.

sidecar drink

Sidecar — Town Hall's new cocktail lounge — is officially open in Minneapolis

It's the fifth Town Hall location, but the first to focus on cocktails.

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 9.10.30 AM

Here's where DFLers stand on Minneapolis' public safety ballot question

The question would create a Department of Public Safety and remove some requirements.

Arthur Kollie

Man pleads guilty to brutal murder of 14-year-old girl in Fargo

The 14-year-old girl was the victim of a random attack outside a Fargo strip mall.

Minneapolis Mayoral Candidates 2021 - jacob frey sheila nezhad kate knuth

Here's who has endorsed the frontrunners for Minneapolis mayor

Politicians and community groups are voicing their opinions.