Cows Leave Gulfport, Bound For Cuba - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

07/14/05

Cows Leave Gulfport, Bound For Cuba

They stand calmly. Some munching on hay. Others peering over a custom-made container. 100 cows are taking a two-day voyage from the Port of Gulfport to Havana.

Cuba bought the dairy cows from Pennsylvania exporter AG Link International.

Company President Pablo Echevarria smiled and said "That's what we have, 99 girls and one bull. It's going to be a happy bull".

The bovine beauties will play a big role in helping the Caribbean nation beef-up its struggling livestock industry.

"These cattle are for breeding purposes. They're going to go over there to give milk, but also have babies and make bulls and heffers and so on for breeding."

There have been at least two shipments of cattle out of The Port of Gulfport over the last two years. The director says the Port of Gulfport is the only one in the Gulf of Mexico to export cows to Havana.

"I can tell you, U.S. origin of live cattle exports are rather uncommon. You don't see that regularly scheduled exports of live cattle," Don Allee said.

One reason may be worries about Mad Cow Disease.

"Since we've had a couple of cases with Mad Cow in the U.S., all of the markets for live cattle in the world have shut down. Cuba today is the only market in the world that will accept cattle in the U.S.," Echevarria said.

As long as the cattle calls from Cuba continue, the Port of Gulfport will welcome the cash cows.

Allee says he's been trying to build a strong export relationship with Cuba for years. You may be wondering why cows are being sold to Cuba, when there's a U.S. trade embargo against the communist island. It's because certain agricultural products are exempt from the sanctions.

By: Trang Pham-Bui

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