The heads of 4 national US poultry and egg organisations will lead a delegation representing the poultry, egg and US soybean industries to Cuba for a fact-finding trade mission Sept. 27-30.
The multi-commodity mission will be the first foray into Cuba funded entirely by the soybean checkoff programme since the US began normalising relations with the country earlier this year. In March, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced that USDA would permit 22 industry-funded agricultural research and promotion programmes to use checkoff funds to conduct authorised research and information-exchange activities in Cuba.
Since the US government authorised limited exports of US agricultural products to Cuba in 2000, it has become the 4th leading export destination for US poultry by volume. Also, the poultry and egg industry consumes more than half of the soybean meal produced in the US.
The Illinois Soybean Association checkoff programme and the Iowa Soybean Association, funded by the soybean checkoff, are backing the mission, which will focus on assessing the potential for greater US agricultural trade as relations between the US and Cuba continue to develop.
While in Cuba, the delegation will meet with representatives from the Cuban poultry, egg and soybean industries to gain a greater understanding of Cuba’s food distribution system and to discuss issues such as biosecurity, food safety and nutrition.
Jim Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council; Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council; Joel Brandenberger, president of the National Turkey Federation, and Anne Alonzo, president and CEO of the American Egg Board, will be among the group on the Cuba mission.
Also among the delegates are Blair Van Zetten of Oskaloosa Foods, who is currently serving as AEB chairman; Joel Coleman of Butterball, past chairman of USAPEEC; and Mark Hickman of Peco Foods, past chairman of NCC.