PONTIAC – A former state representative, senator and treasurer spoke to Livingston County farmers during the annual meeting of the county’s Soil and Water Conservation District.
Dan Rutherford discussed Cuba and his feelings toward the island nation. He noted the lingering trade embargo between the United States and Cuba which will soon mark 55 years. No other trade embargo has been around that long and Rutherford believes President Barack Obama took the right stance toward Cuba.
“The private enterprise in the communist country of Cuba is expanding,” said Rutherford. “This embargo needs to be lifted. There are great opportunities there, but we need to do it in a smart way.”
Rutherford first visited Cuba in 1999 and has been interested in the country ever since. He described a “tense” atmosphere in the 1990’s. Cuba leads the world in organic agricultural production since the United States won’t sell them pesticides or fertilizers, according to Rutherford.
There is trade happening in Cuba now, but it includes cash only – no credits. The country imports 80 percent of its food.
“If certain embargo regulations were changed, the impact on U.S. agriculture exports to Cuba would be $1.2 billion and equating to about $112 million just for agriculture in the state of Illinois,” Rutherford explained.
Rutherford sees Cuba as a place for American businesses to have the opportunity to “make a mark” and for the Cuban and American people to become more understanding of each other. Americans can visit but they must declare one of 12 reasons from a U.S. Treasury list as to why they are going. An itinerary needs to be retained to make sure it is going to be followed.
More information on Rutherford’s travel club can be found at www.globalrelations.us or by contacting his Pontiac office at 815-842-2475.