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Michigan growers want access to Cuban consumers


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.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
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