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Rice coalition eyes Cuba

Rice coalition eyes Cuba
Posted: Wednesday, January 14, 2015 12:00 am
For Tri-County Newspapers

The USA Rice Federation has joined with more than 25 prominent U.S. food
and agriculture associations and companies to form a coalition that
seeks to advance trade relations between the United States and Cuba.
The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba formally launched at an event in
Washington D.C. on Thursday that was attended by Secretary of
Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a bipartisan group of members of Congress, and
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon.
The purpose of the USACC is to re-establish Cuba as a market for U.S.
food and agriculture exports and address liberalizing trade between the
United States and Cuba.
The coalition will work to end the embargo and allow for open trade and
investment.
“We know the Cuban market for rice is not theoretical. It is real, it is
large, and it is compelling,” said Betsy Ward, president and CEO of USA
Rice, in a statement. “With rice imports valued at more than $300
million, Cuba is the second largest importer of rice in the Americas.
And there was a time when Cuba was our number one export market — we
look forward to a return to those days.”
The U.S. rice industry has been advocating for open trade and travel
with Cuba since the mid-1990s and was the first U.S. commodity back in
Cuba in 2001, exhibiting at the Havana Trade Fair, which led to the
first U.S. rice sale to Cuba in more than 40 years.
Throughout the last decade, USA Rice has sponsored numerous trade
missions, led and participated in many forums, here and in Cuba, and
participated in eight Havana International Fairs.
Consequently, by 2004, U.S. rice sales to Cuba were valued at $64 million.
However, U.S. government policy changes reversed that trend, and by
2009, sales fell to zero, where they remain.
“We applaud the Obama Administration for their recent actions, and ask
our leaders in Congress to normalize trade with this nation that we
believe will once again become a major market for U.S. rice,” Ward said.
“Open trade with Cuba would be an enormous boon for U.S. rice farmers,
and we look forward to working with the Cuban rice industry so together
we may supply the Cuban people with high-quality, delicious rice.”

Source: Rice coalition eyes Cuba – Appeal-Democrat: Colusa Sun Herald –
http://www.appeal-democrat.com/colusa_sun_herald/rice-coalition-eyes-cuba/article_f7e1e85c-9ba0-11e4-b1e4-5f49fac7ed5d.html

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