U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos, representing Illinois’ 17th District, and the 13th District’s Rodney Davis will be making a trip to Cuba as part of a bipartisan agriculture trade mission October 11-14.
The delegation from Illinois will be looking at new economic development and export opportunities in Cuba for Illinois farmers.
The trip is being sponsored by the Illinois Cuba Working Group. The trip will include meetings and discussions with officials from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Alimport (which coordinates all overseas purchases in Cuba), a tour of the Cuban marketplace and several additional diplomatic meetings.
Trade commission participants will include officials from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Soybean Growers, Illinois Corn and AGCO.
Since 1960, the Cuban embargo has prevented most trade with Cuba, but there have been some exemptions for agriculture products. According to the Illinois Cuba Working Group, Illinois corn and soy exports to Cuba reached approximately $66 million in 2008. However, in 2014, it was just $24 million, a 63-percent decrease.
Rep. Bustos says the delegation will engage stakeholders from both nations on ways to increase Illinois’ ag exports in Cuba.
“I’m excited to embark on this bipartisan agricultural trade mission because we need to work together to cut through the red tape that holds back Illinois’ farming economy,” said Bustos.
“Illinois farmers have what it takes to compete and succeed on the global economic playing field. So, I’m deeply concerned about how the Cuban embargo has limited their ability to grow and create jobs across our state.”
Upon returning from Cuba, Rep. Bustos will be traveling across the 17th District, meeting with local farmers, business leaders and trade experts to discuss what she’s learned in Cuba.