Today the Illinois Soybean Growers (ISG) is pleased to hear President Barack Obama announce plans to reopen Cuban and U.S. embassies in Washington D.C. and Havana. This latest announcement comes after Cuba recently was formally removed from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism.
“The establishment of embassies combined with the other recent changes in U.S. – Cuba relations helps us inch closer to a more business-friendly atmosphere for getting things done in Cuba,” said Mike Levin, ISG director of issues management and analysis, who visited Cuba in November 2014.
Since 2012, more than a dozen ISG farmer-leaders and staff have visited Cuba five times, with a sixth visit planned for November to promote Illinois’ quality soy at the annual international trade show.
“Better trade relations lead to better diplomatic relations, which in turn lead to even better trade relations,” said Mark Albertson, ISG director of strategic market development, who visited Cuba in March. “Achieving fully-functional embassies is a long overdue step that will give a boost to the improving business climate between our countries.”
Each policy step forward makes it easier for Illinois soybean farmers and businesses to trade products between the U.S. and Cuba. It also promotes positive relationships between the two countries.
ISG has been leading efforts to increase soybean and ag exports to Cuba. Efforts include visiting Cuba and meeting with top officials, along with educating Illinois legislative and business leaders about the economic value of trade with Cuba. Recent studies also indicate that agricultural exports could increase if trade barriers are lifted and regulations relaxed, added Albertson.
Soy is Cuba’s second largest import from the United States, behind chicken, a top soybean consumer, according to the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA). In 2014, U.S. ag exports to Cuba were $287 million, with soy valued at nearly $98 million. In 2008, ag exports were $685 million, with about half that value coming from corn and soybeans.
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 the website www.ilsoygrowers.com
For more information, contact:
Director of Issues Management Analysis
Director of Strategic Market Development
Director of Communications