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2/12/2013 3:58:00 PM Email this articlePrint this article 
Report on Cuba trip highlights Farm Bureau annual meeting
LAWRENCEVILLE - A presentation regarding an Illinois Farm Bureau marketing study tour in Cuba was among the highlights of the 93rd annual meeting of the Lawrence County Farm Bureau Monday night.

The presentation, which included a slide show, was entitled "The Cuban Market: Challenges and Opportunities," and was presented by county Farm Bureau member Glenn Leighty and Jasper County Farm Bureau President Joe Bierman.

The two noted that Cuba imports 80 percent of its food and the crops it does grow are grown without any chemicals, fertilizer or hybrid seed.

During the June 28-July 2 tour, the Farm Bureau delegation, among other stops, visited a flour mill, the country's Chamber of Commerce, a farmer co-op, the Ministry of Agriculture, a farmers market and Alimport, the state-run organization responsible for making decisions on all food imports into Cuba.

Both Leighty and Bierman noted that the group was always watched and listened to by government representatives, were given a list of topics they could not talk about, including politics, told they could not take pictures of certain things, including military personnel. A request to take a tour out into the country, where farmers raise chickens and have some crops, was denied. It is also an area where poverty is at its worst.

Leighty described the country as a step back into time. The cars on the streets all dated from the mid-to-late 1950s, there is no or very little air conditioning, and technology is at a minimum.

Among Illinois Farm Bureau recommendations were that the Illinois Farm Bureau should continue to lobby to end the U.S. embargo against Cuba and continue to work to build relationships with potential Cuban buyers.

During the business meeting, five current directors were unanimously elected to two-year terms.

John King will continue on the Board of Directors, representing Lukin Township; Jerry Shidler, Lawrence Township; William Gartner, Russell Township; J. R. Thompson, Allison Township, and Bryan Moore, director at-large.

Farm Bureau Manager Tyler Harvey said he has been on the job in Lawrence County for 10 months and said his time has been a learning experience.

Harvey talked about how the Farm Bureau has kept busy over the past month with every programs and projects, including taking the lead in raising funds for RES-Q-Tubes and the professional training needed to properly operate the tubes. More than $12,000 has been raised toward the $15,000 goal.

"We have so much to be proud of. I encourage all of you to continue the tradition of excellence in our organization and to let us know if we can help you in any way," Harvey said in his report.

Brandon Rhinehart presented the Young Leader Committee report, noting that the committee was again recognized for its efforts with the "Harvest for All" campaign.

Rhinehart said the more than $582,000 or 189,280 pounds worth of food that was distributed to local food banks assured top honors in the region and the state for the eighth year in a row. The committee's pork burger stand at the fair and various other activities, including support of the annual "Hayden's Walk" an event to help Sudden Infant Death Syndrom research.

Chris Hasewinkle, coordinator of the county's agriculture literacy program said she was actively involved in Ag in the Classroom, Green Eggs and Ag, Farm Safety for Kids and the Summer Ag Institute for teachers.

Hasewinkle said she visits 38 classrooms and about 800 students per month getting across the Ag in the Classroom message. She visits classrooms throughout the county.

Ralph Hasewinkle, Farm Bureau president, presided over the meeting, which was held in the Central Christian Church hall.


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