Cuban relations thaw bodes well for U.S. chicken exporters

Cuban relations thaw bodes well for U.S. chicken exporters

By Bloomberg News | Tuesday, March 22, 2016, 11:00 p.m.

Updated 1 hour ago

Less than 100 miles off the U.S. coast lies an island nation that can’t feed itself.

Cuba, which imports as much as 80 percent of its food, has developed a huge appetite for American chicken, despite the decades-long trade embargo. That’s why few businesses are as excited about normalized relations as poultry producers in Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas.

Chicken is one of Cuba’s top imports, and an exemption to the embargo for agricultural products has made the country the fifth-largest export market for U.S. poultry producers.

Over the past 15 years, more than $1 billion of U.S. poultry — nearly all of it frozen legs and thighs — has been packed aboard cargo ships for the short journey to Cuba. Much of the chicken departs from ports in Jacksonville, Fla.; Mobile, Ala.; New Orleans; and Savannah, Ga.

“They can place an order on a Monday and probably have the product on a Friday, if they need it,” said Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council in suburban Atlanta. “If they buy it from Europe or Brazil, it’s going to be 20 to 30 days.”

Congress authorized agricultural trade with Cuba in 2000, along with pharmaceuticals and medical devices, but five years later whacked U.S. exporters with a tough condition: Cuba’s official import agency had to pay cash before delivery, not when the goods arrive. Financing from U.S. lenders also was prohibited.

That measure has hampered development of the Cuban market for some U.S. goods, including rice. Rep. Rick Crawford, an Arkansas Republican whose district includes some of the largest U.S. rice producers, introduced a bill last year to repeal the financing restrictions and allow U.S. investment in some Cuban agri-businesses. The House bill has attracted 30 co-sponsors, and similar legislation is pending in the Senate.

“When you have a market that’s 90 miles off your coast, and you’ve got these really outdated policies, we’re the ones that lose,” Crawford said, arguing that America’s Cold War stance toward Cuba has been more detrimental to U.S. business than to the communist government. “We’re trying to look at this with a little more modern lens.”

The export-finance rules have effectively ended U.S. exports of rice and wheat to Cuba, and U.S. corn sales to the island have likewise plunged. Cuba buys the bulk of its rice from Vietnam and Brazil, its wheat from Europe and Canada, and corn from Argentina and Brazil, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. “It takes 36 days to get their rice from Vietnam,” Crawford pointed out, “and they can get it from us in 36 hours.”

Despite the strictures of U.S. law, chicken exports to Cuba have remained strong. Cuba’s import agency, Empresa Cubana Importadora de Alimentos (Alimport), considers the quality of U.S. broilers superior to those from Brazil and other Latin American sources, said Lee Ann Evans, a senior policy advisor at Engage Cuba, a trade association of large U.S. companies pressing for expanded commercial ties. Most of the U.S. chicken quarters—the most affordable protein available to Cuban consumers—end up in a variety of state-run and private food shops.

As U.S. policy adjusts and more Americans travel to Cuba, chicken producers and exporters are stirred by the idea of expanding their Cuba trade to new products. Among them: breast meat and the kinds of boneless, skinless cuts that dominate U.S. supermarkets. The communist nation can also expect to eventually discover the culinary joys of highly processed—and higher margin—chicken products such as “nuggets” and wings.

“The only limitations on the amount of product that goes there is limits on Cuba’s economy,” Sumner said. “So as we see Cuba’s economy improve and prosper, we would see more product going down.”

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‘Do Not Privatize the Giant's Shoulders’: Rethinking Patents in Plant Breeding

Intellectual property rights (IPRs) have increasing impacts on plant breeding. Not only varieties but also germplasm and technologies are protected. Intellectual property has also affected corporate concentration in the seed supply chain. While not very controversial in the USA, it is increasingly controversial in Europe after rulings on plant patents concerning nontransgenic crops in 2015. Both political and industry voices call for new interpretations or legislations. Industry initiatives have opened facilitated patent access systems designated ‘free access, but not access for free’. Although praiseworthy, they are voluntary and so far limited to vegetable crops. This Opinion article suggests a mandatory system of declaring IPR use linked to variety registration. This compulsory licensing system with ‘toll roads, not road blocks’, is likely to reward IPRs without delaying breeding progress.


Once considered ‘the common heritage of mankind’, plant germplasm resources have become enclosed through rights spanning from international conventions to national and civil laws.

Patents and material transfer agreements increasingly limit the breeders’ exception guaranteed by intergovernmental agreements.

In 2015, the Enlarged Board of Appeals (EBA) effectively nullified the prohibition to patent ‘plant and animal varieties and essentially biological processes’.

Four European governments have introduced breeding exceptions in their patent laws, with Germany also excluding ‘essentially biological processes’.

Since 2012 industry has launched patent pools and e-licensing to facilitate access.

NGOs address patents from a food security perspective.

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YP Letters: Osborne must give North more than crumbs off the table

From: Chris Gallacher, Chairman, Ukip Redcar.

IAIN Duncan Smith’s resignation is not just the departure of a senior Conservative but further nails in the coffin of George Osborne’s ambition to be the next leader of that very party.

Like most politicians, he has believed he is more powerful and important than he actually is. However, the underlying fact is that he has tried to turn welfare into a cash cow to fuel his tax giveaways for the better off and destroyed any remnants of credibility in the claim that we “are all in it together”.

We are not even considered 
in the North, when a fraction of the monies for “Crossrail 2” would fund massive improvements in the roads, rail, ports and air facilities in our region.

What is needed is a fairer distribution of Government revenue to mitigate the disadvantages faced by all operating in this area.

Rather than giving us the crumbs from the table, we would like a slice of something tangible now and not some time in the distant future.

From: Terry Palmer, South Lea Avenue, Hoyland, Barnsley.

I HAVE noticed a number of letters published in The Yorkshire Post which in many cases concerning the EU are wrong. I should like to try and remove a few myths, if I may.

Being in the EU safeguards jobs. Over one million UK jobs have been lost since we joined the EU including whole industries wiped out such as ship and train building, chemicals, textiles, mining, steel production and chocolate making while others like fishing and farming have suffered badly under EU regulations.

Three to four million jobs depend on being in the EU. No. They depend on trade with the EU, which will not suffer. It would be against EU and World Trade Organisation rules to enter into a trade war just because we left.

We have nothing to lose, and much to gain, by voting “Leave” on June 23.

From: Phil Baggaley, Hull.

I UNDERSTAND that our Government gives £55m a day to the European coffers.

Surely if the referendum is 
in favour of a Brexit, we could give, day one, £55m a year to assist the Border Agency; day two, £55m to assist the NHS; day three, £55m to assist the education department; day four, £55m to assist the police; day five, £55m to help old people care homes and we still haven’t spent a week’s worth of our contribution.

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PM: Brexit Could Batter Britain's Booze Trade

By Jon Craig, Chief Political Correspondent

Britain’s booze trade will suffer a hangover if the UK quits the European Union, David Cameron is claiming.

The Prime Minister says jobs and investment in the wine and spirits industry will be threatened if the UK has to renegotiate international deals on alcohol sales.

But his warning coincides with a new opinion poll suggesting the Leave campaign has a two point leave over Remain, which will surely leave Mr Cameron wanting a stiff drink.

The poll, by ICM, suggests support for leaving the EU is now 43% and support for remaining 41%, even though bookmakers are betting heavily on a vote to stay in the EU.

Mr Cameron claims almost 600,000 jobs in the UK alcohol industry will be safer if the UK votes to stay in the EU, since the wine and spirits industry made £1.8bn in EU exports last year.

UK Brexit Map

UK Brexit Map

Video: EU: In Or Out?

The Prime Minister also says the UK’s booming alcohol industry makes hundreds of millions a year from 35 free trade deals struck by the EU with more than 50 countries

No 10 is highlighting a survey by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association that found 90% of respondents want the UK to stay in the European Union.

“Britain will be stronger, safer and better off in a reformed Europe than out on our own, because we will have full participation in the free trade area, bringing jobs, investment, lower prices and financial security,” says Mr Cameron.

The EU and the Union flags fly outside The European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom in London

The EU and the Union flags fly outside The European Commission Representation in the United Kingdom in London

Video: Brexit: What Might Happen?

“That means real certainty so you can plan for the future.

“On the other hand, those who want to leave Europe can’t tell you if British businesses would be able to access Europe’s free trade area; or if your job is safe, how much your prices would rise, how much your mortgage would be at risk, or if the funding for your local school or hospital is secure.

“They are offering you risk at a time of uncertainty. It is a leap in the dark.”

JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin on Ian King Live

JD Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin on Ian King Live

Video: Why Pub Boss Is Backing Brexit

The PM’s intervention was toasted by James McGrory of Britain Stronger In Europe, who said: “We should raise a glass to the UK’s booming drinks industry – one of the many sectors made stronger by our place in Europe.

“It would be bad news to call time on Britain’s membership of the single market which supports jobs, growth and low prices for Brits here at home.”

But Matthew Elliott, of Vote Leave, said: “Remain campaigners are desperate to do Britain down and are ignoring the fact that the EU has made drinks for Brits more expensive.

David Cameron in County Antrim

David Cameron in County Antrim

Video: PM Warns Over Brexit

“We are the fifth largest economy in the world and should be able to sell whisky freely from Birmingham to Bombay, yet our EU membership prevents us from striking free trade deals with vitally important markets.

“If we vote leave and take back control then our trade will prosper – something both drinkers and exporters can raise a glass to.”

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