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News Updates

IL Soybean Farmers Join Bi-Partisan U.S. Delegation in Cuba to Expand Illinois’ Export Potential


Members of the Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) return home following a high-level, bi-partisan trade mission to Cuba, which included U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D, IL-17) and Rodney Davis (R, IL-13), along with other agriculture and industry leaders.

Leading the delegation on behalf of ISG were Chairman Daryl Cates of Columbia, Vice Chairman Lynn Rohrscheib of Fairmount, CEO Craig Ratajczyk and Director of Issues Management and Analysis Mike Levin.

“The goal of this mission is to continue opening up agricultural trade with Cuba, which creates jobs and opportunities for the state of Illinois,” Cates said. “We saw and heard very positive messages that show the Cuban administration is serious about Illinois exports.”

During the Oct. 11 to 14 visit, which was sponsored by the Illinois Cuba Working Group, delegates met with representatives from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation, Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cuban Ministry of Agriculture, U.S Embassy, Alimport and business leaders. They also toured farms, cooperatives and local private markets.

“It’s important to keep working to open up markets for our Illinois soybean farmers” said Ratajczyk. “It’s exciting to see how the country has changed and evolved since my last visit a few years ago.”

This is ISG’s sixth visit to Cuba since 2012. During that time, the organization has worked to increase soybean and agricultural exports to Cuba both through visits to the island nation and by educating Illinois legislative and business leaders about the economic value of trade with Cuba.

“This bi-partisan delegation is significant because influential Illinois leaders saw and heard firsthand the potential impact Cuban trade has for Illinois,” Levin says. “Although the U.S. is currently allowed to export ag products to Cuba, the embargo is causing us to lose market share to South America and other competitors.”

In addition to Davis, Bustos and ISG, representatives from ADM, AGCO, The Maschoffs, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, University of Illinois and Illinois Farm Bureau participated.

Illinois Cuba Working Group estimates that at least 20 percent of Cuba’s U.S. soy and corn imports originate from Illinois due to the state’s abundance of those crops, farmers’ commitment to quality and access to rivers and railroads.

Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) is a membership organization serving more than 43,000 Illinois soybean growers. ISG provides advocacy in Springfield and Washington, D.C., to promote the interests of Illinois soybean farmers and programs that enhance soybean production and demand. Voice for Soy, the online action center supported by ISG, allows growers to easily connect with legislators and regulators to advocate for Illinois agriculture. For more information about ISG, visit www.ilsoygrowers.com

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Photo: Members of the Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) traveled to Cuba with U.S. Representatives Cheri Bustos (D, IL-17) and Rodney Davis (R, IL-13) Oct. 11 to 14. The bi-partisan delegation, along with other influential Illinois leaders, met with Cuban representatives to further open agricultural trade between the U.S. and Cuba. While there, Rep. Rodney Davis (left) and Rep. Cheri Bustos (right) met with U.S. Ambassador to Cuba, Jeffrey DeLaurentis.

For additional information, please contact: Sarah Duwe, ISG legislative communications lead, at (920) 205-5495 or sduwe@morganmyers.com; Mike Levin, ISG director of issues management and analysis at (309) 808-3606 or levinm@ilsoy.org; or Amy Roady, ISG communications director, at (618) 535-7937 or roadya@ilsoy.org.