Illinois Farm Bureau members, staff to travel to Cuba for market study tour

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

More than 20 Illinois Farm Bureau members and staff from across the state will travel to Cuba June 28 through July 2 in an effort to promote the resumption of normal trading relations with the country.

While there, trip participants will meet with ALIMPORT, which is the food and agricultural import agency for Cuba, the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture, port authorities in Havana and the U.S.-Cuban Interests Section. Attendees also will have the opportunity to visit Cuban farmers markets, cooperatives and vegetable, dairy and livestock farms.

"Restoring normal trade relations with Cuba is an important step in furthering Illinois farmers' abilities to market their produce, including grains, meat and dairy products," said Tamara Nelsen, senior director of commodities for the Illinois Farm Bureau. "Agriculture has been a bright spot in our nation's - and our state's - economy during the recent downturn. Improving our trade relations with Cuba will only help to ensure agriculture can continue to strengthen our state and national economies."

Illinois Farm Bureau members traveling to Cuba include:

    •    Gerry Kopping, Lemont, Ill.

    •    Kevin Green, Fithian, Ill.

    •    Joe Bierman, Newton, Ill.

    •    Steve Hosselton, Louisville, Ill.

    •    Tom Jennings, Springfield, Ill.

    •    Glenn Leighty, Jr., St. Francisville, Ill.

    •    Thomas Marten, Waggoner, Ill.

    •    Keith Mussman, Bourbonnais, Ill.

    •    Kent Warren, Clay City, Ill.

    •    Joe Zumwalt, Warsaw, Ill.

    •    Hugh Scates, Shawneetown, Ill.

    •    Doug Scheider, Freeport, Ill.

    •    David Serven, St. Augustine, Ill.

    •    Grant Strom, Brimfield, Ill.

    •    Jamie Walter, DeKalb, Ill.

    •    Grover Webb, Simpson, Ill.

    •    Richard Gates, Carmi, Ill.

    •    Robert Inman, Grand Chain, Ill.

A representative of the media, a member of the Illinois Department of Agriculture and several Illinois Farm Bureau staff members will be traveling to Cuba as well.

Trip participants and Illinois Farm Bureau staff are available to speak with the media regarding their upcoming trip to Cuba and what improved trade relations could mean for Illinois agriculture. Media interested in speaking to a trip participant are invited to call Rachel Torbert, media relations manager for the Illinois Farm Bureau, at 309-557-2083 to schedule interviews. Trip participants also will be available for media interviews following their trip.

The Illinois Farm Bureau is a member of the American Farm Bureau Federation, a national organization of farmers and ranchers. Founded in 1916, IFB is a non-profit, membership organization controlled by farmers who join through their County Farm Bureau. IFB has a total membership of more than 420,500 and a voting membership of 82,973. IFB represents two out of three Illinois farmers.