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Published February 20, 2008, 12:00 AM

Johnson trip intersects with Castro’s announcement

BISMARCK — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson’s trade trip to Cuba this week has intersected with history.

By: Janell Cole, N.D. Capitol Bureau

BISMARCK — North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Roger Johnson’s trade trip to Cuba this week has intersected with history.

Johnson was touring Cuban farms Tuesday morning when he learned, as others in Cuba and the world did, that President Fidel Castro announced he’s stepping down after nearly 50 years in power.

Johnson was not available for comments Tuesday but is tentatively scheduled to discuss that topic this morning by telephone news conference, as well as other news from the North Dakota trade delegation’s activities.

Ted Quanrud, a spokesman for Johnson’s office, said that while Castro’s news was published early in the morning only on the Internet, it eventually reached the Cuban countryside later Tuesday.

He said today’s conference call with Johnson is tentative because it’s dependent on successful arrangements with Cuban communications officials.

Johnson and 11 others left for Cuba on Sunday and will return Friday.

They are meeting with Cuban government officials including the vice president of Alimport, Cuba’s principal food import agency.

The trip includes touring livestock and potato farms.

Johnson has led seven trade missions to Cuba.

The others in the delegation are Randy Schneider, Bismarck, North Dakota Ethanol Producers Association; Alan Juliuson, Hope, Northarvest Bean Growers Association; Darren Kadlec, Pisek, Kadlec Farms; Mark and Kristin Kok, Plaza, Great Northern Agriculture; Eric Bartsch, Bismarck, United Pulse Trading; Ken Bertsch, Fargo, state Seed Department; Brian Baglien, East Grand Forks, Minn., Tobiasson Potato Co.; Jessica Kolden, Garrison, JM Grain; Bart Schott, Kulm, Corn Utilization Council, and Stephanie Sinner, North Dakota Department of Agriculture.

Janell Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Dickinson Press.

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