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Livestock business expert maintains ties to Illinois State

Bruce Cluver valued some of his Illinois State University Agriculture faculty so much that three decades later he employs several in his exporting firm.

Bruce Cluver

Cluver’s agricultural interests came at an early age as the son of Cissna Park dairy operators. He came to Illinois State to study agriculture, and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1970.  While working on his degree, Cluver participated in the dairy cattle judging team led by Agriculture faculty coach and dairy science professor Clarence Moore, who also taught many of Cluver’s classes.

“Besides my parents, Dr. Moore influenced me more than anyone,” Cluver said, noting that Moore’s influence was strong enough to encourage Moore’s own son, Aaron, to pursue a career in agriculture.  Aaron Moore is currently on the University Agriculture faculty, and Professor Emeritus Clarence Moore is one of several faculty employed at Cluver’s company.

Moore returns Cluver’s regard, noting that “Bruce has established an outstanding reputation in the U.S. and throughout the world as a leader in livestock exports.  The level of performance of Ag-World Exports, due mainly to the leadership of Bruce, has continued to grow.  Bruce continuously develops new markets, and his customers depend on and trust him.”

Cluver has made numerous contributions to the Agriculture department, including pregnancy testing equipment for swine, sheep and cattle and monetary gifts to the dairy judging team.  He has served as a guest lecturer and as the featured speaker at student club meetings.

“The best thing about Ilinois State in the 1960s was the interaction and relationship between the Agriculture professors and the students, and that has continued in the present time,” Cluver said. “I think Illlinois State is unique in this closeness. Technology has also changed the Department of Agriculture and agriculture in general, and the department has stayed on top of technological changes and offers students the latest information on uses of energy and genetically modified seeds to increase production.”

Cluver continued his education, earning an MBA at Northern Illinois University with an international business emphasis.  He put his education to use with his position at the Illinois Department of Agriculture promoting agriculture exports from the State of Illinois. When a change in governors necessitated a job change, Cluver went to work as a general manager of Illinois Produce International.

“I decided I did not want to report to a board of directors,” Cluver said. “I thought I could make quicker decisions and be more flexible if I had my own company. So I found a partner to help me financially, and we started Ag-World Exports in 1977. Three years later, I purchased my partner’s shares of the company.”

Ag-World, Inc. is the second largest North American breeding livestock exporting firm and has received many prestigious awards, including the President’s Award for Excellence in Exports given by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Since its founding, Ag-World has bought thousands of cattle and sold tens of thousands to international buyers.The firm exports all species of breeding animals for agriculture, including draft and pleasure horses, as well as semen, embryos and electronic testing equipment. Currently, the largest customers are China and Vietnam.

Cluver expanded the firm to include Ag-World Europe and EuroSwine. The firm has done business with more than 76 countries and on every continent, with Cluver regularly traveling to England, Holland, Germany, Vietnam, Thailand and China.

Cluver has served as an officer on the Livestock Exporters Association of the United States and on the board of directors of the Animal Air Transportation Association. He has been a member of the McLean County and Illinois State Chambers of Commerce and the National Republican Committee and American Legion. In 1993, Cluver received the Alumni Achievement Award from Illinois State University’s Alumni Association. He is also active in the Bloomington Trinity Lutheran Church.

The father of Georgia Dawson, sales and marketing coordinator and community relations director at Bloomington Beer Nuts, and Jacob who is in the mortgage industry in California, Cluver enjoys spending time with grandson Jack (6) and granddaughter Isabel (8). He plans to spend time with his newest grandchild, Jacob and wife Sue’s child, due in September. Cluver also works with stained glass projects.

“I think Illinois State did a good job preparing me for my future after the army turned my life around,” Cluver said. “The army helped me become more focused on studying and working for the future.”