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NDTO News Article

North Dakota Agriculture Learning Journey to Cuba October 25-28, 2015

NDDA LogoIn recent months, U.S.-Cuba relations have rapidly thawed. Late in 2014, the administration announced efforts to normalize relations with Cuba and supported ending the embargo on trade with Cuba that has lasted more than 50 years. Since then, the U.S. has expanded its diplomatic presence in Cuba, and provided more flexibility for U.S. banks to do business with Cuba. Many in Congress are now working together in support of measures that will normalize trade relations with Cuba.

North Dakota agriculture has been engaged in this effort, emphasizing that normalized trade relations with Cuba would be a very positive step forward for North Dakota’s agriculture industry. Expanding trade with Cuba – including more than 11 million people living just 90 miles from Florida – presents new opportunity to grow North Dakota’s agriculture sector, and we are hopeful that relations will be fully normalized by Congress soon.

North Dakota agriculture leaders have already participated in one business-focused “learning journey” to Cuba, and we have seen growing interest in a second visit. As a result, the North Dakota Department of Agriculture (NDDA) is working in partnership with Cuba experts to organize a learning journey to Cuba for those in North Dakota agriculture.

Over the course of four days, attendees will have an opportunity to meet Cuban officials and farmers; see farms and agriculture facilities; and conduct discussions about opportunities for both countries. Outside of professional activities, there will be time to see and enjoy the city of Havana, learn about its changing economy and its cultural life.

Program Leadership

The North Dakota learning journey will be led by Agricultural Commissioner Doug Goehring. A third-generation family farmer, Commissioner Goehring, along with his son, Dustin, operate a 2,600 acre, no-till farm near Menoken in south central North Dakota, where they raise corn, soybeans, spring wheat, field peas, sunflowers, winter wheat and alfalfa. In the past, the Goehrings have also produced durum, barley, mustard, canola, millet and safflower, and have had a feeder cattle operation. Commissioner Goehring believes the future growth and prosperity of North Dakota agriculture depends on the expansion of overseas trade and on new technology. He strongly supports increased research into cereal grains and biofuel crops.

NDDA will also be working with Paul Johnson, a Cuba policy and business expert who has spent the past twenty years studying the history, culture, economy and language of Cuba. Johnson wrote his master’s thesis on the economic development of Havana in 1999 and founded Chicago Foods International, LLC that exports food products to Cuba. Johnson works with Phil Peters on coordinating all trips to Cuba. Peters has worked with the U.S. State Department under both President Reagan and Bush. Peters is an analyst of U.S. policy toward Cuba and is an advisor to the Cuba Working Group that was formed in the House of Representatives. In March 2015, Johnson & Peters led a learning journey to Cuba that included more than 90 leaders from across the nation, including two former U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture.

Cost and Details

The cost of this trip is $3,600 per person, with a $200 per-person discount for double occupancy.

This fee covers:

  • All planning and trip logistics, guide and translation services
  • Obtaining Cuban visas and ensuring compliance with U.S. travel requirements
  • Miami-Havana roundtrip airfare – please note attendees will be responsible for their own travel arrangements to Miami
  • Three nights’ hotel accommodations in Havana
  • Air-conditioned coach transportation for the group from beginning to end, including airport transfers, with driver and guide
  • The cost of all activities on the group schedule
  • Most meals (some lunches and snacks are not included)

The fee does not cover:

  • Bar bills at group meals
  • Tips for driver, guide, porters, or waiters
  • Air travel to Miami or hotels in Miami

Registration and Payment

Because of limited hotel space in Havana, NDDA encourages you to complete the RSVP form & provide a copy of your passport by  Tuesday, May 26th. A detailed e-mail will follow after all RSVP’s have been received, and will include what is needed to finalize your reservation. The deadline to receive all materials, and payment, is Wednesday, July 1st.

Click here to view the complete announcement, which includes the trip itinerary.