Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Texas rice in Havana?

From today's NYT (link to full article follows):

Farm Groups Push Congress to Ease Exports to Cuba

"Southern farmers and the trade groups that represent them believe their proximity to Cuba and their history as one of its biggest food suppliers would make them natural exporters to the island.

"'In this day and age, we're looking for any kind of market that we can re-establish,' said Curt Mowery, a rice farmer in Sandy Point, Tex., who went on the 1999 Farm Bureau trip. The Cubans, Mr. Mowery said, 'like rice, and they like American rice.'
"Rice farmers in particular have a great deal at stake in the legislation. Even under the Bush administration, they were able to ship some rice to Cuba, but the amount depended on how strictly the Treasury Department interpreted financing restrictions.

"In 2004, rice producers in the United States shipped $64 million worth of rice to Cuba. After the administration more stringently applied rules requiring advance cash payment, rice exports dropped to $24 million in 2007. In 2008 they were less than $7 million, and in 2009, rice farmers sent nothing.

"Cuba gets much of its rice from Southeast Asia, and farmers believe the Cubans would be quick to switch to American suppliers to cut down on shipping time and freight costs.

"'They could consume the entire rice crop of Texas and part of Louisiana,' Mr. Mowery said."

Farm Groups Push Congress to Ease Exports to Cuba



The House Agriculture Committee has approved a bill to lift some export limits and remove a longstanding travel ban, and the full House could vote on the bill this summer.
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