The following statement was released by the U.S. Rice Producers Association after the Obama administration announced it will allow freer travel and commerce (see http://deltafarmpress.com/news/cuba-trade-0415/) between Cuban-Americans and their relatives still living on the island nation. It reads:

“The thousands of rice producer members of the U.S. Rice Producers Association applaud the announcement by the White House … to relax the Bush administration’s restrictions on the travel of U.S. citizens to visit relatives in Cuba, and to send their relatives cash remittances and other gifts. The initiative to begin to open opportunities for the Cuban people to avail themselves of services by U.S. telecommunications providers is also welcome.

“We encourage the Obama administration to bring the same thoughtful, comprehensive approach to the sale of U.S. rice, wheat, dairy products, poultry, and other commodities to Cuba. Most immediately, new law enacted in March of this year requires the U.S. Treasury Department to provide for the issuance of ‘general licenses’ to U.S. farmers, exporters, marketers, and their associations to travel to Cuba to market the more than 1,000 commodities that are already eligible for sale to Cuba. At the same time, we urge the Obama administration to roll back the Bush administration’s restrictive regulations that stifle the sale of U.S. commodities to Cuba, and to take positive steps to facilitate the sale of U.S. farm goods to Cuba on more normal commercial terms.

“It pleases U.S. rice farmers to know that the Obama administration is conducting a thorough evaluation of our failed trade policy and past relations with Cuba, with an eye toward what the future can bring for the good of both nations. We encourage the (Obama) administration and Congress to continue to work with U.S. farm organizations to make the needed changes and adjustments that will increase trade and improve the relations between our countries. It is time that current law and the overall embargo are administered in a way such that U.S. farmers are no longer asked to bear the burden of our 50-year-old failed Cuba policy.”

For more on U.S./Cuba trade in rice, see http://deltafarmpress.com/searchresults/?ord=d&terms=cuba+rice.