WASHINGTON, DC -- Last week, Members of Congress from rice-producing districts, led by Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), sent a letter to Lisa Peterson, the acting assistant secretary at the State Department for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, regarding the unrest and violence in Haiti and the negative implications they are having on the U.S. rice trade with the island nation.
The letter, signed by eight U.S. Representatives, urges the State Department to address the situation by finding long-term solutions that are mutually beneficial for both countries’ economies and protect the Haitian people.
“The U.S. exports roughly 500,000 metric tons (MT) of rice per year to Haiti, the largest foreign market for U.S. long grain milled rice. Literally caught in the country’s political crossfire, U.S. rice exports are subject to armed thieves, threatening the future of our market in Haiti. In the last six weeks alone, gangs have forcefully stolen 500 MT of U.S. rice, valued at more than $300,000 and all grown in the Mid-South,” says the letter.
The letter continues, “If it becomes impossible to get rice into Haiti, or companies refuse to provide insurance for rice shipments, the impact would be devastating to Haitians in desperate need of staple foods, like rice, and to U.S. rice farmers and millers.”
Rep. Clay Higgins (R-LA) sent a letter (see USA Rice Daily, July 7, 2021
) to the State Department several weeks ago, calling for similar action following the assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Since that letter was sent, the United Nations and the Biden Administration have spoken out regarding the assassination and are calling for an end to the violence in Haiti. Additionally, the State Department named Ambassador Daniel Foote, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, to serve as its Special Envoy for Haiti.
“We greatly appreciate the support by these members of Congress and the actions taken to date by the Administration,” said Ben Mosely, USA Rice vice president of government affairs. “We are hopeful for additional visibility on the longtime issues faced by Haiti, and lasting action that will ultimately result in a positive outcome for Haitian citizens and the U.S. rice industry.”