As Cuba-U.S. relations gradually warm, with President Barack Obama heading to the island this weekend for the first U.S. presidential visit in 90 years, American agribusiness is seeing green — specifically, lucrative pastures of export opportunities. While still a relatively small market, Cuba represents potentially billions of dollars of U.S. commodity exports, just a 90-mile flight or cargo ship ride away.
Along with a bevy of members of Congress, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and top agriculture industry representatives are joining Obama on the photogenic trip. Perhaps one reason is declining US agricultural trade to Cuba. American agricultural and food product exports to Cuba totaled more than $170 million in 2015, a far cry from its high water mark of $710 million in 2008, according to the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council based in New York. The bulk of these exports are soybean oil cake, frozen chicken legs, corn, and soybeans.