The Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) will be looking to explore opportunities for rural economic development benefiting the state’s agricultural producers, processors and growers through trade with Cuba.
The MDA has been directed by Governor Jay Nixon to explore these possibilities. In a press release announcing these plans, Gov. Nixon said that Cuba provides exciting prospects as an export market for the world-class goods produced by Missouri farmers.
The Governor added that Missouri’s agricultural exports are up 14 percent this year alone and help drive the state’s economy and the growth of Missouri jobs. “I look forward to the Department of Agriculture detailing the additional economic opportunities we would gain by expanding our trade market in Cuba,” said Gov. Nixon.
Missouri Agriculture Director Richard Fordyce said in the release that working in partnership with producers and commodity groups throughout the state and nation, he is excited to carry out the Governor’s directive to maximize the potential for economic growth and prosperity through expanded trade opportunities with Cuba.
This announcement follows on the heels of the 45th Governor’s Conference on Agriculture in Osage Beach. During his address at the conference, Gov. Nixon discussed his priorities for agriculture and rural economic development.
The Governor’s Office is additionally moving ahead to communicate with USDA and the U.S. State Department about opportunities for trade missions of Missouri business, agricultural and government leaders to Cuba focused on agricultural exports.
Following the announcement of normalization of relations with Cuba, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a statement in which he says that the announcement “expands opportunity for U.S. farmers and ranchers to do business in Cuba. It removes technical barriers between U.S. and Cuban companies and creates a more efficient, less burdensome opportunity for Cuba to buy U.S. agricultural products.”
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman likewise issued a statement in which he says that this is welcome news for the nation’s farmers and ranchers. “Improving trade relations between the U.S. and Cuba will expand access to a market of 11 million consumers for U.S. agriculture,” said Stallman.