Arkansas State Council

Hope Benedict
Bio-Tech Pharmacal, Inc.

Dow Brantley, Chair
USA Rice and Arkansas Rice Federation

Donald Bobbitt, President
University of Arkansas System

Bruce Burrow, Principal
U.S. Cuba Holdings

Wayne Callahan, Senior Advisor
Vestar Capital Partners

Mark Cochran, Vice President for Agriculture
University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture

Terry Freeman, Consultant; Former President
Bibler Brothers Lumber and Construction

David Gairhan, Vice Chair
Arkansas Rice Farmers

Tim Graham, President
HUNT Ventures 

Andrew Grobmyer, Executive Vice President
Agricultural Council of Arkansas

Derek Haigwood
Arkansas Farmer

Burt Hanna, President & CEO, Hanna's Candle Company

Gary Heathcott, President
CJRW

Dan Hendrix, President & CEO
World Trade Center Arkansas

Byron Holmes, Chair
USA Rice Nutrition Subcommittee

Mark Isbel, Farmer
USA Rice

Jennifer James, Chair, USA Rice Sustainability Committee

Bradley Manis, President & CEO
Mannco Fertilizer

Todd Martin, Executive Director & CEO
Independent Professional Seed Association

Kevin McGilton, Rice Miller
Riceland Foods

DeAnn McGrew, Director, Agriculture & Volunteer Programs
Winrock International

     Janet Harris, Director of Programs
     Winthrop Rockefeller Institute

Randy McNeil, President
Poinsett Rice & Grain

Mark Middleton, Principal
U.S. Cuba Holdings

Robert Moery, Agriculture Liaison
Governor Asa Hutchinson

Herbert Morales, President
Latin American Business Solutions

Ben Noble, President
Noble Strategies

Steve Orlicek, President
Arkansas Rice Council; Rice Farmer

Linus Raines, Vice President
ATA International;
Director of Business Development, 
Green Stamp America, Inc.

Bill Reed Riceland, Vice President of Public Affairs
Riceland

Mike Roberts, Principal
U.S. Cuba Holdings

Jeff Rutledge
Arkansas Rice Council

Mark Simmons, Chairman
Simmons Foods, Inc. & Affiliates

Cameron Smith, President
Cameron Smith & Associates

Keith Smith, Founder
Keith Smith Company

Chuck Stutte
Bio-Tech Pharmacal, Inc.

Johnny Sullivan, Vice President Sales & Marketing
Producers Rice Mill

Randy Veach, President
Arkansas Farm Bureau

Larry Wallace, Principal
U.S. Cuba Holdings

Wes Ward, Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture

Melanie Wells,
ETW Enterprises, Inc. Shavings & Rice Hulls

    Andrew Grobmyer
    Executive Vice President, Agricultural        
    Council of Arkansas

    LSB Industries
 

 


Arkansas' Champions

                                       News Clips

PRESS RELEASE: ARKANSAS STATE LEADERS LAUNCH ENGAGE CUBA STATE COUNCIL

SOUTHWEST TIMES RECORD: ARKANSANS ‘ENGAGING’ CUBAN BUSINESS

Engage Cuba, a coalition of private businesses and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba, launched its Arkansas State Council at a press conference co-sponsored by USA Rice this week.

SOUTHWEST TIMES RECORD: COALITION SEEKS GRASSROOTS SUPPORT IN ARKANSAS FOR END TO CUBA EMBARGO

Engage Cuba, a coalition of businesses and organizations advocating an end to the travel and trade embargo on Cuba, said Monday it is launching an Arkansas group to organize grassroots support for a change in U.S. policy toward the island nation.

ARKANSAS TIMES: ARKANSAS RICE GROWRS PUSH FOR CUBA TRADE

Engage Cuba, a business coalition, began an Arkansas affiliate today with a call for an end to travel and trade embargoes with Cuba. The group praised Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Sen. John Boozman and Rep. Rick Crawford for their support. Missing in the listing were Sen. Tom Cotton, a foe of opening doors in Cuba, and three other Republican congressmen from Arkansas. 

ARKANSAS BUSINESS: ENGAGE CUBA LAUNCHES ARKANSAS COUNCIL, CALLS FOR AN END TO TRADE RESTRICTIONS

Engage Cuba President James Williams said Monday that Cuba would pledge to buy a significant amount of rice from the U.S. should the Congress allow trade on credit between the countries.

NWA: CUBAN DELEGATES TALK TRADE & TOURISM AT UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS

The University of Arkansas, welcoming delegates from Cuba for a historic visit. Wednesday, the World Trade Center Arkansas, an extension of UA, hosted three delegates from the Cuban Embassy. Officials met with faculty from UA's Agricultural Division to discuss trade and tourism. Arkansas is one of the top producers of rice and poultry in the U.S. -- and Cuba is a top consumer of both. Cuban officials are hoping to see the federal trade embargo lifted so it can begin trading with Arkansas businesses.

TALK BUSINESS & POLITICS: CUBA GROUP VISITS NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, HANNA’S CANDLE OWNER HOPES TO OPEN A PLANT IN CUBA

Burt Hanna, owner of Fayetteville-based Hanna’s Candles and a longtime supplier to Walmart U.S., told Talk Business & Politics he is working on a proposal to set up a small manufacturing site in Cuba. Hanna met with members of the Cuban Trade Delegation touring Northwest Arkansas this week and attended a press conference held Wednesday (April 13) at the World Trade Center in Rogers. Hanna said he plans to revisit Cuba in the next couple of months to get a better feel for what it will take to make this work.

ARKANSAS MATTERS: ARKANSAS AND CUBA OFFICIALS KICK OFF TRADE DISCUSSIONS

While President Obama has been working to re-establish relations in Cuba, Arkansas has been doing the same. Working on economic relations to establish agricultural trade. It's been six months since Governor Hutchinson became the first American Governor in decades to travel to Cuba. These developments have farmers in Arkansas optimistic, the 56 year long trade embargo, will come to an end soon. "That's my dad's house, the house to the right will be my grandmothers." For Robby Bevis, farming has been in his blood for generations. 

DELTA FARM PRESS: CUBA WORKING GROUP GOALS AND PROTECTING FARMING OPERATIONS

In mid-December, a working group from the House announced it would begin studying how best to deal with the emerging U.S./Cuba trade relationship. … On January 6, Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford, a key member of the working group, spoke with Delta Farm Press about his hopes for a new trading partner and his frustration with fellow lawmakers over their approach to agriculture and the farm bill. … ‘The idea is to put together a group of members who have an interest in seeing a change take place while recognizing it will probably require incremental steps. I don’t think we’re in a position to get the support we need for a wholesale repeal of the Cuban embargo.’” 

ARKANSAS ONLINE: CUBA WORKING GROUP GOALS AND PROTECTING FARMING OPERATIONS

Levya said she found out that the Central Arkansas New Agrarian Society, a Little Rock-based group, was sending a delegation to the November conference in Cuba. … Five Arkansans went to Cuba, the second-largest delegation from the United States, second only to Vermont. ‘We were proud of that,’ she said. Cuba is advanced in growing sustainable food, she said, and has farming cooperatives. She said her goals was to learn more about the structure of those organizations and how they work.

DELTA FARM NEWS: ARKANSAS LEADERS FORM NEW ENGAGE CUBA STATE COUNCIL TO PROMOTE TRADE

The effort to restore Cuba as a major market for U.S. rice and other agricultural commodities took another step forward with the launch Monday (April 11) of the Arkansas State Council for Engage Cuba.

UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS: WORLD TRADE CENTER ARKANSAS DELEGATION MAKES SECOND CUBA VISIT

A World Trade Center Arkansas-led delegation of 25 business leaders, food producers, and educators made a second visit to Cuba, starting June 26.  The purpose of the trade mission was to continue discussions of potential trade opportunities. Arkansas agriculture was represented by Arkansas Secretary of Agriculture Wes Ward, faculty from the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff, the Department of Aquaculture and Fisheries, the University of Arkansas Fayetteville, the UA Division of Agriculture, as well as officials from Heritage Grain & Southern Brown Rice, Armor Seed, LLC and the Arkansas Rice Federation.

NPR ARKANSAS: CRAWFORD DISCUSSES CUBA TRIP & EMBARGO ON TALK BUSINESS & POLITICS

Arkansas leads the nation in the amount of rice grown and is the 2nd largest poultry producer in the nation—two staples of Cuban cuisine. The Engage Cuba Coalition made a comment about how Congress is handling the embargo. 

CBS LITTLE ROCK: ARK. BUSINESS: ENGAGE CUBA, FISCAL SESSION, DAVE AND BUSTER’S

A coalition of Arkansas business and academic leaders are joining a growing group calling for the end of the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba. A group called “Engage Cuba” announced Monday the creation of an Arkansas State Council. 

ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE: IN LITTLE ROCK, GROUP CALLS FOR LIFTING OF CUBA TRADE RESTRICTIONS

Officials representing the Arkansas and Cuban governments gathered with rice growers in Little Rock on Monday, calling on Congress to lift a decades-long trade embargo against the island nation and promising a trade deal as an incentive. Gov. Asa Hutchinson has also visited Cuba, and a representative from his office was among the group of 37 officials representing the state, agricultural and business interests to be named on the Arkansas council of the Engage Cuba Coalition, which seeks normalized relations. 

NPR ARKANSAS: GROUP FOR ENDING CUBA EMBARGO LAUNCHES ARKANSAS COUNCIL

A national group of business leaders and others working to open trade with Cuba launched a state council in Little Rock Monday. James Williams, President of the umbrella group, Engage Cuba, said Arkansas lawmakers are leading the effort to lift the 55 year-old trade embargo against the country. 

THE CITY WIRE: REP. CRAWFORD: CUBA ON CUSP OF CHANGE, U.S. SHOULD HELP OPEN UP THE NATION

Cubans are a proud people entering a period of major social change, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, said Monday after returning from his first trip there last week. The outspoken proponent of opening up trade with Cuba traveled there along with Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., Arkansas rice producers and others. Crawford said he had several preconceived notions that “were pretty well shattered when I got there. I guess I was expecting them to not be very friendly and not be very welcoming to Americans and just have a general sort of disdain, and that wasn’t the case at all,” he said. “In fact, it was right the opposite. They were very welcoming and open and extremely friendly and hospitable.”

KFSM: GOVERNOR ASA HUTCHINSON ARRIVES IN CUBA FOR TRADE MEETINGS

Governor Asa Hutchinson is in Cuba, exploring opportunities to promote trade between Cubans, and the Natural State. It is confirmed that Hutchinson is meeting with Cuban officials, discussing opportunities to further trade discussions.

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS DEMOCRAT GAZETTE: GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON URGES EASING OF CUBA CREDIT RESTRICTIONS

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson is urging congressional leaders to ease credit restrictions with Cuba and says doing so would open millions of dollars in new markets for his state. Hutchinson urged the leaders to advance legislation easing the limit of financing that requires cash-based sales up front for exports to the country. The legislation is sponsored by Republican Sen. John Boozman and Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas.

STAR TRIBUNE: IN GOP, EMMER TAKES THE LEAD ON CUBA

‘The House is a huge priority for us,’ said Steven Law, who runs the GOP super PAC American Crossroads and advises the Engage Cuba Coalition. ‘I think there’s some really interesting aspects to [Emmer’s] personality that make him well-suited to advance the issue,’ Law said. … U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, a Republican from a rural district in Arkansas, signed onto Emmer’s bill. Crawford, who has his own bill to allow agricultural trade, said it wasn’t a hard sell for him. ‘This is a vestige of the Cold War and largely a Camelot legacy that has outlived its usefulness,’ Crawford said.”  

REUTERS: IN CUBA, ARKANSAS GOVERNOR SEEKS TO CHIP AWAY AT EMBARGO

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Monday urged the U.S. Congress to allow food companies to sell to Cuba on credit, favoring it as a first step in a gradual repeal of sanctions against the Communist-led island. Hutchinson, a Republican, is the first U.S. governor to visit Cuba since Washington and Havana restored diplomatic relations in July after a 54-year break. He leads an Arkansas trade delegation, seeking an edge as states jockey to take advantage of the U.S. opening to Cuba. Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo led a similar delegation in April.”

ARKANSAS NEWS: CRAWFORD INTRODUCES BILL TO EXPAND TRADE OPPORTUNITIES WITH CUBA

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, introduced legislation Tuesday aimed at increasing trade opportunities with Cuba. The bill, titled the Cuba Agricultural Exports Act, would repeal restrictions on selling products to Cuba on credit and give producers access to Department of Agriculture marketing programs that help the U.S. compete in foreign markets. Also, the bill would enable limited American investment in Cuban agricultural entities, if U.S. regulators certify that the entities are privately owned and not controlled by the government of Cuba or its agents.

ARKANSAS BUSINESS: CUBA, ARKANSAS OFFICIALS TO HOLD AGRICULTURE ROUNDTABLE

Winrock International, the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and The Howard Baker Forum are planning a two-day, invitation-only roundtable examining how normalizing relations with Cuba could affect the American food and agriculture sector. The event will focus on Cuban agriculture and efforts to establish trade there. Speakers will explore barriers to lifting the trade embargo, provide an overview of Cuban agriculture, and discuss human rights concerns.

UNIVERSITY OF ARKANSAS: CUBA READY TO IMPORT ARKANSAS RICE BUT EMBARGO MUST GO, DIPLOMAT SAYS

Arkansas rice would be popular in Cuba and the nation wants to buy it if the U.S. trade embargo is lifted, a Cuban diplomat said Wednesday. "Rice produced in Arkansas has a long grain variety that is a favorite of the Cuban country," said Juan Lamigueiro Leon, deputy chief of mission at the Cuban Embassy in Washington. "We are ready to import this variety from Arkansas. The only problem we have is according to the restriction that's still in place by the Congress ... trade between Arkansas and Cuba cannot be supported by commercial credits." If the credit restriction were to be lifted, trade between the United States and Cuba would explode.

ARKANSAS BUSINESS: RICK CRAWFORD 'VERY ENCOURAGED' AFTER CUBA TRIP

From April 6-9, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford, R-Ark., and U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, R-La., traveled to Cuba to gain a better understanding of the island country's people, culture, politics and challenges. "The nation of Cuba is on the cusp of some pretty significant change - socially, culturally, economically, politically and otherwise," Crawford said. The four-day trip gave the congressmen time to meet with ministry commerce and agricultural officials as well as visit the agricultural college. 

KASU: CRAWFORD EXPLAINS HOW CUBA TRADE EMBARGO EFFECTS ARKANSAS AGRI-BUSINESS

In preparation to his upcoming trip to Cuba, U.S. Representative Rick Crawford educated listeners on how the embargo affects Arkansas in his "Tune In" web series. Crawford asks one simple question: "who are we really punishing with the embargo?" He said unlike other countries like China the embargo in Cuba has helped the Castro Regime make the case that America was the "bad guy"--a dynamic he says lawmakers are trying to change to improve relations with the country. 

Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)-Arkansas

Governor Asa Hutchinson (R)-Arkansas

Representative Eric "Rick" Crawford (R-AR-1) Sponsor of H.R. 442-Cuba Trade Act of 2017 & H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Representative Eric "Rick" Crawford (R-AR-1)

Sponsor of H.R. 442-Cuba Trade Act of 2017 & H.R. 525 Cuba Agricultural Exports Act

Representative Bruce Westerman (R-AR-4) Cosponsor of H.R. 525 - Cuba Agricultural Exports

Representative Bruce Westerman (R-AR-4)

Cosponsor of H.R. 525 - Cuba Agricultural Exports