WASHINGTON (DTN)--North Dakota Republican Gov. John Hoeven plans to visit Cuba in July, the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council announced, in New York.

The council said Hoeven is the second governor of a U.S. state to visit Cuba. The other was George Ryan, an Illinois Republican.

The visit by Hoeven is planned to coincide with the arrival of 20 metric tons of commodity samples from North Dakota: hard red spring wheat, peas (green and yellow), beans (black and pinto) and barley purchased by Alimport.

The council also announced U.S. companies have requested approximately 60 exhibition booths for the U.S. Food and Agribusiness Exhibition, in Havana, Sept. 26 to 30. The exhibition is the first in Cuba to be approved by the U.S. government. The products to be exhibited may include dairy cows and other livestock, from Illinois, where producers have showed an interest in taking them to Cuba by air. The council said Cuba is interesting in buying cattle, heifers and buffalo.

The total market value of the agricultural commodities purchased by Alimport from United States-based companies since December, 2001, is approximately $102 million. As of July 1, based upon statistics compiled by the Foreign Agricultural Service, Cuba ranks 57th of 180 countries in agricultural product purchases from U.S.-based companies based on 2001 exports. If, as expected, Alimport purchases $165 million in agricultural products and food products from U.S.-based companies in 2002, Cuba likely will rank approximately 45th of 180 countries, in terms of agricultural product purchases from United States companies in 2002. This would place Cuba ahead of Denmark, the Bahamas, Portugal, Jordan, Greece, South Africa, Chile, Poland, Vietnam, Hungary, Austria, Ukraine and 135 other countries, in terms of U.S. ag exports.

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