U.S. Reps. Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Cheri Bustos (D-IL) will be part of an upcoming bipartisan agricultural trade mission to Cuba aimed at establishing new export opportunities and economic development for Illinois farmers.
"We've allowed the sale of certain agricultural products to Cuba since 2000 but because of government restrictions we've put Illinois farmers, and the Cuban people, at a disadvantage," Davis, who represents part of Madison County, said. "I'm looking forward to learning more about how improving agricultural trade with a country that imports roughly 70 percent of its food and is located just 90 miles from our coast can create greater opportunities for Illinois farmers."
An embargo, which began in 1960, stopped most trade between the U.S. and Cuba, but agricultural exports were still allowed.
Export numbers from Illinois to Cuba have fallen in recent year, with the soy and corn exports decreasing from $66 million in 2008 to $24 million in 2014, according to the Illinois Cuba Working Group, which is sponsoring the upcoming trip.
Davis and Busto hope to work with stakeholders from Cuba and the U.S. to raise the state’s agricultural exports.
“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,” Bustos said. “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. I’m looking forward to embarking on this Agricultural Trade Mission so we can build new relationships and develop new strategies to grow Illinois' agricultural economy by increasing our exports.”