U.S. sets meeting for potential farm exports to Cuba

by Teresa Acklin
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   WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Bureau of Export Administration at the U.S. Commerce Department held a public meeting in late July to outline how companies and organizations can apply for licenses to export medicines, food and agricultural items to Cuba.

   The Clinton administration in January promised to lift a 36-year embargo against Cuba's communist-ruled government to allow some sales of food, fertilizers and seeds to private organizations and independent farmers on the island. That action came after the White House in early 1998 opened the way for sales of medicines and medical equipment to Cuba.

   U.S. farm groups have been eyeing Cuba as a potential market for American exports once the economic embargo is lifted. Cuba imports about 900,000 tonnes of wheat and 100,000 tonnes of wheat flour annually, with most coming from the European Union. The U.S. Grains Council has estimated Cuba could buy more than 300,000 tonnes of feed grain each year if its poultry, hog and rabbit feeding operations were rebuilt.