From WILL - News Local/State -

US Shift On Cuba Opens Doors For Illinois Farmers

soybean seeds

A farmer holds Monsanto's Roundup Ready soybean seeds at his family farm in Bunceton, Mo. (Dan Gill/AP)

President Obama's announcement that the U-S will start talks on normalizing relations with Cuba includes plans to allow more exports to that country. That could offer new opportunities for Illinois farmers and businesses.

William Delaney chairs the International Business Council for the Illinois Chamber of Commerce. He says, "The impact would be direct, immediate and hugely beneficial for the state of Illinois."

Mark Albertson agrees. He oversees market development for the Illinois Soybean Association. The U-S was the top supplier to Cuba of soybean meal and bean oil until 2007, when South America overtook it. Albertson says the current rules make it too difficult to do business with Cuba.

"There are so many hoops we have to jump through with financing issues and banking issues," he says, "it makes us not very competitive."

Albertson expects today's announcement will change that, and crack the door open a bit more to a country that already buys some $60 million in U-S soybeans every year.

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