USA Rice Federation, More Than 100 Others Push for Ag trade with Cuba

Stuttgart Daily Leader

By: Peter Bachmann

USA Rice, along with more than 100 state and national agriculture-related organizations and agribusinesses sent a letter to President-elect Trump and his team asking his administration to prioritize the removal of private financing and trade barriers for agricultural commodities and equipment.

"With less than one week until the Trump administration takes the reins, it's important that the agricultural community voices its support for policies that will allow us to sell our crops and products in a free and open market," Ben Mosely, vice president of government affairs for USA Rice, said. "Trade with Cuba is not just a priority for U.S. rice but the dozens of other organizations and businesses that represent nearly every sector of our vital industry that signed-on in support of reduced trade and financing barriers for agricultural commodities."

While the needed fixes fall under the jurisdiction of Congress, the letter asks the administration to consider "progress made in normalizing relations with Cuba, and also solicit the administration's support for the agricultural business sector to expand trade with Cuba to help American farmers and our associated industries.

The groups highlighted the fall of the U.S. as Cuba's go-to for food, "The U.S. has fallen from its position as the number one supplier of agricultural products from 2003 to 2012, to now the number five supplier after the European Union, Brazil, Argentina and Vietnam. The U.S. needs to be number one again. Especially given many of Cuba's imports, including rice, poultry, dairy, soy, wheat and corn make up more than 70 percent of what they import and they're all grown right here in the U.S. by hardworking American farmers," Mosely explained.

The letter was organized in part by USA Rice and the dozens of state agriculture organizations and businesses that make up Engage Cuba's state councils for Cuba.