NEW ORLEANS -- Governor George H. Ryan today joined ADM officials and leaders of the Illinois agriculture industry as the first U.S. commercial shipment of grain since 1963 set sail to Cuba.
“Today is an historic day in more ways than one, for the people of Cuba and the people of Illinois,” Governor Ryan said. “This shipment of corn is another part of the bridge we are building in our relationship with the people of Cuba.”
Decatur based Archer Daniels Midland Company is shipping the first commercial cargo to Cuba since 1963. The ship left today and is carrying 24,000 metric tons of corn from 9 different states; the majority of the corn was grown in Illinois. The journey from New Orleans to the Port of Havana is expected to take two days.
Governor Ryan was joined in New Orleans at a press conference announcing the historic shipment by representatives of ADM, the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, the Illinois Farm Bureau and the National Corn Growers Association.
Since he has taken office, Governor Ryan has focused his administration on finding new markets for Illinois products. Illinois’ agriculture industry accounts for nearly a quarter of all jobs in the state, and expanding opportunities for farmers to market their commodities is a priority for his administration. Currently Governor Ryan’s administration is working with ADM and the Mexican government to bring ethanol technology to Mexico. Providing that country with cleaner air and Illinois farmers with new access to Mexican markets.
“Since he’s been in office Governor Ryan has taken the lead in trying to open new markets for Illinois products overseas, including Cuba,” Larry Cunningham, ADM Senior Vice-President of Corporate Affairs said.
In October 1999, Ryan became the first United States governor to go to Cuba in more than 40 years when he led a 40 person delegation on a mission to the island nation. The purpose of the mission was to build a bridge of friendship for the future between the people of Cuba and Illinois.
“We began building a bridge that we hoped would someday improve the conditions of living for the people of Cuba, while at the same time, benefiting the people of Illinois,” Governor Ryan said. “With this shipment today, I believe we are doing just that.”