Farm and commodity groups are excited about President Obama’s plans to visit Cuba next month.
“By having President Obama go to Cuba, that will definitely add some awareness to the issue,” said Mark Albertson, Strategic Marketing Director at the Illinois Soybean Association, “maybe get a few things done on Capitol Hill as well.”
The trip will contribute to normalizing relations between the two countries separated by 90 miles of ocean and by five-and-a-half decades of an embargo, according to Albertson.
“Indeed our governments do have some differences, but everyday Cubans really do like Americans and I think it’s fair to say that everyday Americans have nothing against the Cuban people,” said Albertson, reflecting on visits he’s made to that nation because of his work.
Restrictions resulting from the embargo prohibit the extension of credit to Cuba, making the U.S. less competitive than other exporters, said Albertson.
“So it is really difficult to see all the ag products coming up from South America, whether it’s South American soybeans, South American corn, pork, other types of products that Cuba’s buying from South America that they could be buying from us,” he said.
The Illinois Soybean Association will send a delegation to Cuba a couple of weeks after President Obama’s scheduled visit.
AUDIO: Mark Albertson (6 min. MP3)