Illinois delegation headed to Cuba

The four-day trip will focus on expanding agricultural trade opportunities.

illinois_delegation_headed_cuba_1_635799950663192000A group of about 30 Illinois agribusiness leaders and two members of Congress will participate in a bipartisan trade mission to Cuba next week.

The four-day trip, organized by the Illinois Cuba Working Group (ICWG), will focus on expanding agricultural trade opportunities.

And Illinois has much to gain from expanded trade with Cuba.

Texas A&M University estimates U.S. ag exports to Cuba will reach $1.2 billion if remaining regulations can be relaxed and trade barriers are lifted. Illinois’ share could be about $120 million a year -– four times the current value of the state’s ag exports to Cuba, according to new estimates. Corn and soybean exports alone could generate an additional $80 million a year for Illinois.

The group, which includes Reps. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, and Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, will meet with Cuban government officials and farmers, visit farms and ag facilities and learn about the economy and cultural life in the city of Havana. They leave Sunday and return Wednesday.

Also participating: Illinois Farm Bureau’s Adam Nielsen, director of national legislation, and representatives from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Soybean Growers and Illinois Corn Growers Association.

“We keep showing Illinois is a leader on this issue. This trip does a lot for that,” said Paul Johnson, ICWG executive director. “The bipartisan support we are showing at the congressional level really shows that we are interested in learning more, finding creative ways to engage Cuba to compete with their existing trade partners and restore those relations.”


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