JEFFERSON CITY • A year after missing a trip to Cuba because of the funeral of former State Auditor Tom Schweich last year, Gov. Jay Nixon will lead a delegation of Missourians on a trade mission to Cuba next week.
The trip, paid for with private dollars, will focus on growing Missouri exports to the island nation, especially agricultural products.
“Cuba represents a market of 11 million consumers that has been largely untouched by U.S. exports for more than 55 years. Missouri is moving forward to take advantage of this opportunity, particularly when it comes to rice, one of the staples of the Cuban diet,” Nixon said in a statement released Tuesday.
Cuba formerly was an export destination for Missouri-grown rice. The governor said he hopes to trip will produce a renewed market for long-grain rice grown in the southeast part of the state.
The delegation, which departs May 29 and returns June 1, is slated to visit a new port at Mariel in hopes of connecting the Cuba with Missouri products that are transported down the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Among those accompanying Nixon include Missouri Department of Agriculture Director Richard Fordyce, Missouri Department of Economic Development Director Mike Downing and Southeast Missouri State University President Carlos Vargas. First Lady Georganne Nixon, who led the state’s 2015 Cuba trip in her husband’s absence, also is going.
The trip will mark Nixon’s 12th trade mission.
Kurt Erickson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
May 24, 2016