Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples returned from a historic trade mission to Cuba with two contracts signed, new partnerships created and the confidence the contacts made on this trip will payoff with big dividends down the road.

“This trade mission exceeded our expectations and was a major success. There is a huge potential for exporting Texas products to Cuba, and the mission has set the table for a long-term business relationship with the Cubans,” Commissioner Staples said. “The Cuban buyers were very accommodating and made it clear they are ready to do business with Texas.”

The trip is already producing results; two contracts totaling $400,000 have been inked to sell Texas cotton to Cuba. Additional deals to export more cotton, poultry and milk to the Cuban nation are in the works.

Commissioner Staples became the first statewide elected official from Texas to visit Cuba on state business in more than 45 years. The Commissioner led a delegation of 24 Texans, including farmers, ranchers, commodity suppliers and port representatives. The group met with Cuban government officials who procure agricultural products and visited three Cuban farms and food markets to identify food needs not met by domestic production.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Texas has exported well over $100 million in agricultural products to Cuba since 2000 when Congress partially lifted the trade embargo against the island nation. Commissioner Staples believes that number will grow dramatically over the next few years.

“Cuba needs good quality agricultural products. Texas farmers and ranchers produce the best food in the world and it just makes sense for our state to help feed the Cuban people,” Commissioner Staples said.

Since 1961, when President John F. Kennedy imposed a trade embargo on the Caribbean country, U.S. and Cuba trade had been non-existent until recently. In October 2000, Congress passed the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act, allowing the sale of agricultural and medical products to Cuba.