Tractor with AL roots heading for Cuban factories amid controversy

Published: Feb. 16, 2016 at 12:43 AM CST|Updated: Mar. 14, 2016 at 11:46 PM CDT
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Tuff-Bilt claims its logo can be seen in the steering wheel portion of the Cleber model...
Tuff-Bilt claims its logo can be seen in the steering wheel portion of the Cleber model photographed above. (Source: Courtesy photo)

JACKSON COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Alabama is doing billions in business with foreign countries.

Newly released figures show the state totaled more than $19.3 billion in exports for 2015 - the third highest on record for the state.

Cars lead the way for Alabama exports. Canada is the biggest destination for Alabama-made products overall.

A Jackson County company is one step closer to opening its new factory in Cuba, but not without controversy.

It's been over 50 years since an American factory operated on Cuban soil.

Monday, the U.S. Treasury Department approved plans for a company based out of Paint Rock to be the first company to break the barrier.

We first told you about Horace Clemmons and his plan to build tractors in Cuba last year.

The idea is to build as many as one-thousand small tractors per year to sell to Cuban, Caribbean, Central and South American farmers.

However, another Jackson County company, Tuff-Bilt, says Clemmons is using its tractor to promote his business.

Clemmons says his design is based off one of Tuff-Bilt's products, but is upgraded.

He also claims any patents protecting the design expired decades ago.

A representative from Tuff-Bilt says not so fast. Tuff-Bilt says you can see its logo is printed on the steering wheel of the Cleber tractor.

Tuff-Bilt says it is in the process of building a legal cases against Cleber, and plans to file suit.

Meanwhile, Cleber is set to begin manufacturing in Cuba sometime in 2017.

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