U.S., Cuba enhance agricultural business relationships

During Cuba visit, Secretary Vilsack announced several measures to foster further collaboration between U.S. and Cuban agriculture sectors.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced several measures that will foster further collaboration between the U.S. and Cuban agriculture sectors as the secretary was part of the presidential delegation to Cuba today.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and Cuba's Ministry of Agriculture developed a memorandum of understanding to increase bilateral cooperation in agriculture, recognizing the mutual interest of both countries in advancing agricultural technologies, agricultural productivity, food security and sustainable natural resource management.

USDA will also allow industry-funded research and promotion (or checkoff) programs and marketing order committees to use their resources for certain authorized research and information exchange activities with Cuba. Research and promotion and marketing order boards, committees and councils have an opportunity to participate in this partnership as certain information exchanges with Cuban government and industry officials, and industry-funded health, science, nutrition and consumer-oriented research activities with Cuba will be permitted.

"U.S. producers are eager to help meet Cuba's need for healthy, safe, nutritious food. Research and promotion and marketing order programs have a long history of conducting important research that supports producers by providing information about a commodity's nutritional benefits and identifying new uses for various commodities,” Vilsack said. “The agreements we reached with our Cuban counterparts on this historic trip and the ability for our agriculture sector leaders to communicate with Cuban businesses will help U.S. agricultural interests better understand the Cuban market while also providing the Cuban people with science-based information as they grow their own agriculture sector."

The U.S. and Cuba said they recognize the threats climate change poses to both their countries, “including worsening impacts such as continued sea-level rise, the alarming acidification of our oceans and the striking incidence of extreme weather events.” The U.S. said it welcomes opportunities to work with Cuba to enhance bilateral cooperation on climate change and to work together to play a positive role in addressing this urgent global challenge through international fora.

USDA is working with Cuba's Ministry of Agriculture to schedule a visit to the Caribbean Climate Sub Hub in Puerto Rico in late May 2016.  The hub supports applied research and provides information to farmers, ranchers, advisers and managers to support climate-related decision-making.

During this visit, USDA and the Ministry of Agriculture will exchange information on tools and strategies for climate change response that help producers cope with challenges associated with drought, heat stress, excessive moisture, longer growing seasons and changes in pest pressure.  Cuba has long had institutional and legal frameworks to address climate change and has established a robust national disaster risk reduction framework that supports its early-warning system for extreme weather events.

Building on the successful conclusion of the December 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, the U.S. and Cuba intend to sign and join the Paris Agreement as soon as feasible this year. The U.S. will also work with Cuba to pursue cooperation in the areas of disaster risk reduction, addressing ocean acidification, advancing climate-smart agriculture and sharing best practices and lessons learned through international initiatives focused on adaptation and lowering emissions.

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