WASHINGTON, DC -- Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO), for whom rice is an important issue, took the opportunity to ask a pointed rice question of U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, who was testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee yesterday on expanding export markets for American-made goods and services, trade agreements currently under negotiation, and Trade Promotion Authority.
Smith, a newly appointed member of the Committee, reminded attendees that his district is one of the most agriculturally diverse in the nation, growing everything but citrus and sugar. And lots of rice.
"Congressman Smith is committed to helping farmers find and develop markets for their commodities and he has been very helpful in key trade issues, most recently in Iraq and Cuba," said Betsy Ward, President & CEO of the USA Rice Federation. "We're pleased he stressed the importance of developing this market to Ambassador Froman."
"Before the 1962 embargo, Cuba was the number one importer of U.S. rice," Smith said to Ambassador Froman during the hearing. "Cuba is currently the second largest importer of rice in the Americas. What do you think the benefits of normalizing relations with Cuba would be to the U.S. agricultural community, and crops like rice?"
While Ambassador Froman said he would look into the specifics and follow up with the Congressman, USA Rice is well aware of how important normal commercial relations are between the U.S. and Cuba.
"A normalized commercial relationship is vital to growing the Cuban economy to a place where they can import U.S. products, like rice," said Ward.
Contact: Deborah Willenborg (703) 236-1444