State Spends $150 Thousand For Cuba Trip
Some might call it a huge expense for a state that is basically broke. Others might call it money well spent and a great investment in Louisiana's future. Only time will tell if a recent visit to Cuba lead by Governor John Bell Edwards and Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Dr. Mike Strain will be a big benefit or just another Louisiana boondoggle.
Taxpayers were hand the bill for the trip which cost you and me $150,432.00. If you look at it like this we sent 22 people on a 5-day Caribbean getaway at a cost of $1,367 per day per person. I always spent over a thousand dollars a day when I travel with my family. NOT!
Alright, I am being petty about this. 23% of the total cost of the trip was the Governor's personal security detail. I don't know if that's required or if it just seemed like a good idea. He got back to the state safely so at least we know they did their job.
My personal feeling on this trip is that it will pay off in the future. With thawing relations between the United States and Cuba, Louisiana is poised to be the beneficiary of a brand new market that is hungry for our products. Since New Orleans is the closest major industrial and agricultural port to Havana we're going to see a nice upswing in business there too.
Louisiana rice farmers should also benefit greatly from improved relations with the island nation. Currently, Cuba imports most of their rice from Vietnam. That rice has to travel a long way to get to Cuba and when you consider Louisiana rice is much closer and a much better quality that would appear to be a win-win situation for the state and for Cuba.
If you'd like a complete breakdown of what agencies were represented and who represented them you can find more in an article published on NOLA.com and in the Times-Picayune. That article was written by reporter Julia O'Donoghue.
One other side note, Commissioner Strain's wife Susan accompanied him on the trip. Her expenses were not paid for by the state. They were picked up, quite admirably I must say, by the Strains and no state money was used.