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Local Farmers Weigh In On VA Governor's Cuba Trip

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Bedford County, VA - Governor McAuliffe wrapped up his 3-day trade mission in Cuba. Today, he announced Virginia reached an agreement with the country to increase agricultural exports.

This week Governor Terry McAuliffe became the 4th Governor to visit Cuba since the US and Cuba restored relations. But he says he's the first to walk away with an agreement.

Virginia will now work with the Cuban port authority to strengthen their trading relationship. From the mountains of Bedford County.. Dairy Farmer Don Gardner has been paying close attention to the Governor's trip.

"The American farmer is one of the most productive farmer in the world. We can compete with anyone in the world if we have a level playing field" said Dairy Farmer Don Gardner. And Gardner is glad the Governor is willing to play ball..

"We raise wheat, corn, soybean, apples, dairy products, poultry. So there is a lot of things that might have a potential market in Cuba" said Gardner.

Virginia is already one of Cuba's top three U.S. trading partners. But until recently, Cuba could not trade on credit. "We have to consider the whole world as our market" said Gardner.

Not everyone is on board with the idea, Delegate Ben Cline tells Abc 13 the Governor should have first addressed Cuba's human rights violations.. then trade. Bedford County Agricultural Board President Jeff Powers has similar concerns.

"Those types of working relationships have got to help everything all the way around, as far as human rights" said Jeff Powers, Ag Board President.

He hopes this will be a step in the right direction. "Agriculture can be the backbone in all of this" said Powers.

Powers says that the Bedford County Ag Board will be meeting for its monthly meeting Wednesday night. He says he is almost certain this will be a topic of discussion.

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