U.S. government restrictions on trade with Cuba deprive the United States of more than 3,300 jobs and the rice industry of about $150 million in the export value of U.S. rice each year, Bill Reed, Riceland Foods vice president for public affairs, told the members of the U.S. International Trade Commission in a recent open hearing.

‚ÄúIt is imperative that the necessary actions are taken to remove the current restrictions on trade and travel with Cuba to allow our industry the opportunity to compete for this key export market,‚ÄĚ Reed said during the hearing dedicated to learning about the economic effects of U.S. restrictions on agricultural sales to Cuba.

‚ÄúCurrently, we are unable to become the primary of supplier of choice for Cuba ‚Ķ given that the U.S. restrictions in place prevent us from being a ‚Äėreliable‚Äô supplier,‚ÄĚ said Reed, who was testifying on behalf of the USA Rice Federation. Reed cited U.S. Treasury Department restrictions imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control beginning in February 2005 as the principal source for interrupting the rice trade with Cuba.