Cuba buys seed potatoes from US growers

North Dakota will ship 100 tons of seed potatoes to Cuba, marking the first time the communist country has bought U.S. seed potatoes in decades.

The deal, announced Monday, calls for the seed potatoes to be sent to the island in time for farmers there to plant this year, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson said.

The United States established a trade embargo with Cuba in 1962, but Congress passed a law in 2001 allowing cash sales of U.S. agricultural goods and medicine to Cuba.

Johnson said he has traveled to Cuba six times in the last six years to push North Dakota farm products. He said the state has sold about $30 million worth of peas and lentils to Cuba since 2001.

Cuba officials have said the country imports up to 40,000 tons of seed potatoes annually from Canada and Holland, but the country wants to find other sources.

North Dakota has more than 180 potato growers but only about three dozen potato seed producers.

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