Arkansans ‘engaging’ Cuban business

Southwest Times Record

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. The Arkansas State Council is comprised of agribusiness, community and academic leaders committed to engaging with Cuba through diplomacy and trade.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, U.S. Sen. John Boozman and U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford have worked with the group to lift the travel ban and trade embargo, according to James Williams, president of Engage Cuba.

“Arkansas is the living and breathing example of why we need to change this policy after 55 years of failure,” Williams said in a news release. “The fact that Cubans are now eating rice from Vietnam instead of Arkansas is an outrage that needs to be changed. Congress needs to stand on the side of its citizens who overwhelmingly want them to lift the travel ban and trade embargo with Cuba.”

Agriculture is the No. 1 industry in Arkansas and the state produces approximately 50 percent of the U.S. rice crop every year. Arkansas’ top exports, including soybeans, rice and corn, are among the most in-demand products in Cuba, the group adds.

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