Dec 11, 2015
NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today’s general session program opened with a conversation between Louisiana rice farmer John Owen and his neighbor, Representative Ralph Abraham. Because the Congressman was detained by business in Washington, DC, the conversation took place via phone and film. Abraham represents Louisiana’s 5th district, the largest row crop district in the nation, and is a fierce supporter of the agriculture community. He spoke about the opportunity he has as a member of the House Ag Committee to push for legislation and programs that really work for farmers, and being a farmer himself, Abraham knows what it takes to grow a crop.
Next up was a live and lively presentation by Dr. David Kohl on the current economic outlook as it relates to agriculture. Dr. Kohl provided straight talk on the global trends that impact American farmers, including trade, oil markets, and weather. He emphasized the importance of China and how their activities influence what happens on a macro level around the world. At the same time, Kohl reminded everyone, events on the mico level are just as crucial and he encouraged farmers to remain fiscally conservative in the good times in order to capitalize during the bad times.
Finally, Reubén Ramos Arrieta, Minister Counselor in the economic and trade office of the embassy of the Republic of Cuba, offered his perspective on U.S.-Cuba relations and the potential for renewed U.S. rice exports to Cuba. He talked about how encouraged people in his country are by the dramatic changes the U.S. has made recently to normalize relations with Cuba, but also reminded the audience of the challenges that remain before real trade can begin.