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News Release

California Department of Food and Agriculture

Media Contact: Steve Lyle, Director of Public Affairs, (916) 654-0462

California Department of Food and Agriculture
Release #08-001
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Trade mission to create market opportunities for California agricultural exporters

SACRAMENTO, Wednesday, January 16, 2008 - California Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura will be leading an agricultural trade delegation to Cuba, January 21 – 24, 2008, to market California agricultural products to the Cuban government, creating future sales opportunities for California exporters.

“Cuba represents a good potential future market for California agriculture and is one that will directly benefit California companies,” said Secretary Kawamura, “Our experience has been that consumers, in every country we have visited, want access to California products.”

Secretary Kawamura is leading a delegation comprised of California agricultural leaders, who were selected based upon their commitment to international trade and their ability to meet the demands of the Cuban market.  This initial trade mission will lay the foundation for future trips, where California companies interested in selling agricultural products to Cuba can participate.

Cuba imports an estimated $180 million worth of agricultural products that could be supplied by California farmers and ranchers.  This trade mission will leverage agricultural business opportunities to increase California’s share of exports to the nation. In 2006, California exported an estimated $735,000 in agricultural products to Cuba.

Current company participants include:

1.) California Farm Bureau Federation
2.) Centers for International Trade Development
3.) Constellation Brands
4.) Hilmar Cheese
5.) Irrigation West
6.) Limoneira
7.) Mariani Nut Company
8.) The Nunes Company
9.) Pandol Brothers
10.) Sierra Orchards
11.) Valley Fig Growers

While in Cuba, the delegation is scheduled to have the following meetings with Cuban trade and government officials:

Monday, January 21: Havana
• Delegation meeting with Pedro Alvarez, Chairman and CEO of Alimport, Cuban agricultural import entity
• Visits to retail outlets

Tuesday, January 22: Havana
• Meeting with Alimport purchase managers
• Meeting with CIMEX  (Cuban trading company) to discuss retail sales structure
• Meeting with Ministry of Foreign Trade
• Meeting with Ministry of Foreign Relations

Wednesday, January 23: Havana
• Meeting and briefing with the Ministry of Agriculture
• Meeting with Alimport purchase managers

Thursday, January 24: Havana
• Morning departure to Miami.

State departments of agriculture are authorized to be licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department, Office of Foreign Assets Control, to engage in travel-related transactions involving Cuba. Agricultural trade with Cuba was authorized on October 28, 2000 when the President signed the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. Since this time, Cuba has imported more than $1.8 billion in agricultural products. The California Department of Food and Agriculture received a license in December 2007 to conduct an agricultural trade mission.

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