A group of Iowans spent last week on a trade mission to Cuba. Former Iowa Corn Growers Association president Bob Bowman says they spent five days meeting with government officials, the people in charge of Cuban livestock production, and touring farms.
Bowman, a farmer in DeWitt, says there’s great potential in Cuba to build markets for Iowa corn and distillers grains, however U.S. policies restrict trade to the Communist country. "It’s a cash only business," Bowman says, "the cash has to be transferred into a U.S. bank before the product can be shipped…which is kind of a disadvantage."
Bowman says the Cuban officials he met with wish the United States would consider easing trade restrictions. "We were asked repeatedly to do what we could politically in this country to open up trade," Bowman said, "because they need two way trade to help their people out."
Bowman says he believes opening trade would improve relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Many legislators in Washington are against free trade with Cuba, saying it would only strengthen a dying dictatorship under Fidel Castro. Bowman was joined on the trip to Cuba by Deb Keller from Clarion and Iowa Secretary of Agriculture Bill Northey.