Opinion: Trade agreement with Cuba is good for farmers, business

th[5]As a young farmer in the late ’90s I spent several months in Bolivia teaching local cotton growers how to utilize basic agricultural technologies and improve production. This gave me a firm understanding of why it is so important for a country like Cuba to be able import basic goods with greater ease. But I also recognized the many economic benefits for Missouri’s agricultural industry.

Missouri farmers are business owners and job creators driving our local economies and the state’s economy. Increasing exports to Cuba is vital for continued growth and economic development in the state. The president’s decision to lift U.S. trade restrictions has created opportunities for rice and soybean growers, dairy farmers and the wood industry that are unprecedented. And when a region or industry prospers, so does the entire state.

After returning from Bolivia, I started Agxplore International and began manufacturing ag-fertilizers to help farmers address day-to-day challenges and enhance overall production. To date, we work with producers in 30 states and 15 countries. I’m on the front lines with farmers everyday. Whether it’s a small rural town, a state’s agricultural industry or an entire country, the economic benefit of increasing exports is overwhelming.

Commerce between Cuba and Missouri will now be similar to other free market trade agreements. In the past, trade restrictions put the U.S. at a significant disadvantage not only with Cuba, but also with countries like Bolivia. As trade relations with Cuba improve, Missouri farmers can expect trade agreements previously hindered due to the restrictions in areas like Central and South America to also progress.

In 2014, the Department of Economic Development estimated export of Missouri goods could reach $14 billion. The Farm Bureau Federation has long called for the removal of trade restrictions with Cuba. As a Missouri farmer and business leader, I know expanded trade with U.S. and Missouri will serve as a foundation for substantial economic development.

By Barry Aycock, Southeast Missourian
March 11, 2015

Barry Aycock is an agriculture entrepreneur and businessman from Parma, Missouri.

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