Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Farmer's Could Benefit from change in Cuba

Fidel Castro is stepping down as the leader of Cuba. This could open up free market trading with the United States and benefit farmers amongst others.

"Cuba could be a very good agricultural market for us," said Assumption farmer Leon Corzine, who is a previous president of the National Corn Growers Association. "The reasons for our government policy has been all about Fidel Castro."

There is some central Illinois history in working with Cuba:

"If there was a way they could get their government where it would be suitable for our government to lift the embargo, I think the only thing that can happen is improving imports to them and continue to help the American farmer," said Mike Stacey, a past president of the Macon County Farm Bureau.

When ADM launched its first shipment of corn to Cuba in 2001, Stacey was among those who attended a ceremony in New Orleans. Former ADM executive Martin Andreas, Stacey said, was instrumental in making some of the connections that linked Central Illinois farmers with the Cubans. Andreas retired from the company in 2005.

ADM was the first American company to sell crops directly to Cuba under the new laws. It said it will continue its current approach in Cuba until a new trade policy is in place.

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