John Deere to sell farm tractors in Cuba

WATERLOO — Iowa’s largest manufacturing employer, after a five decade absence, could soon be doing business again in Cuba. Deere and Company has announced an agreement to sell tractors to the Cuban government.

Deere spokesman Ken Golden says shipments should begin later this month. “This equipment has to be tested and appraised by the Cuban Agricultural Ministry to ensure that it will work for their needs and their conditions,” Golden said. “If they agree that it’s equipment that would be appropriate for Cuba, then there will be shipments over the next four years.”

Most of the tractors will be from Deere’s 5,000 series, now made at a plant in Augusta, Georgia. But, there’ll also be a small number of the 7,000 series tractors, made in Waterloo, Iowa. “It will mainly be smaller tractors and the implements that are used for farming pulled behind these tractors,” Golden said.

The cost of the contract between Deere and the Cuban government has not been disclosed. “Today, Cuba imports about 60-to-80-percent of its food and improvements in the agricultural sector there will help improve the availability and affordability of food for the Cuban population,” Golden said.

John Deere is returning to Cuba after an absence of more than half a century. “Deere first entered the Cuban market in the 1800s and we were there until the early 1960s,” Golden said. The machinery sent to Cuba will be mainly used in the dairy, row-crop and fruit and vegetable sectors.

Deere’s announcement follows news that a Caterpillar dealer will open a distribution center in Cuba, becoming the first U.S. company to have a physical presence in the high-profile Mariel Special Development Zone.

According to the Cuba Standard report, both companies seem to be racing to establish a foothold in Cuba before the Trump administration slams the door. In July, President Donald Trump announced he would prohibit sales to armed forces-controlled entities.

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