U.S. Ag Export Community Meets; USA Rice Sits on Cuba Panel

Jul 17, 2015

ARLINGTON, VA - Earlier this week, the U.S. Agricultural Export Development Council (USAEDC) held their annual Attaché Seminar in Arlington, Virginia. This two-day conference features consultations with more than 70 USDA Foreign Service officers and a full day of programming for cooperators and USDA officials. 

USA Rice CEO Betsy Ward joined a panel of experts about opportunities in Cuba that was moderated by USDA Deputy Under Secretary Alexis Taylor.

Ward spoke about USA Rice's involvement with the U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba (USACC), and what she sees as the future for the Cuban embargo given the multiple bills that have been introduced in Congress.

"Cuba could once again become an important market for U.S. rice, but the embargo must be lifted first, and true two-way trade needs to get going," she said. "Every day we get closer to the 2016 elections, presidential politics makes that harder to accomplish."

USA Rice staff met with new and continuing attachés involved in many key rice export markets. These included the Caribbean, Central and South America, China, Mexico, and Turkey, among others.  Staff relayed industry concerns, received important feedback from the attachés, and discussed future actions in both trade policy and international promotions.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack delivered the keynote address, highlighting the challenges and opportunities U.S. exports face in the coming months and years.

"Secretary Vilsack talked about the impact of agriculture exports on the U.S. economy, projected to be $1 trillion from 2008 through 2016," Ward said. "With about half the U.S. rice crop being exported annually, the importance of foreign markets for rice cannot be overstated. That's why participating in meetings like this are so important - connecting face-to-face with the FAS staff on the ground in our key markets - it's one of the most important meetings we attend."

Ward said USA Rice will also attend the USAEDC workshop in November in Baltimore.