If things fall into place, Missouri’s Agriculture Director could be among the first Americans to enter Cuba since President Obama began easing relations between the two countries.
Governor Jay Nixon (D) wants his Agriculture Department to look for opportunities for Missouri from the normalization of trade with Cuba. Agriculture Director Richard Fordyce says that could include a trade mission including agriculture, business and elected leaders.
“It’s very exciting,” Fordyce told Missourinet. “When the governor had mentioned this, he thought that the announcement of the president to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba was big and thought it could be really important for Missouri agriculture.”
Fordyce thinks it is a priority of the Governor that Missouri be the first state to send a trade team to Cuba, with proposals to get Missouri products into Cuba.
“We’re working with the United States Department of Agriculture and the U.S. State Department. We’ll start seeing what hurdles we need to overcome,” said Fordyce.
Some, including Missouri’s Republican US senator Roy Blunt, think President Obama’s decision to move toward trade with Cuba was a bad one. Fordyce says, for Missouri to see how it can benefit isn’t an endorsement of Obama’s plan.
He points out the American Farm Bureau has pushed for normalization for a long time.
“It’s because of the ability of, specifically, Missouri farmers and more generally, U.S. farmers, to have another market.”
Fordyce thinks Missouri grown rice would be a top potential export, but also expects interest in oak barrels, pork and livestock feed.