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Local rice farmers want Cuban market to remain open
News, Feb 17, 2005
Local rice farmers this week expressed their support of legislation aimed at keeping Cuba open to the import of American agricultural products.

The long grain rice grown in the Katy area is highly desirable. An estimated 15,000 acres in the region is dedicated to rice, yielding an average of 8,000 pounds per acre annually.

"We are disappointed that this legislation may be necessary to reiterate that our trade with Cuba is consistent with the law," said Dwight Roberts, CEO of US Rice Producers Association.

The USRPA represents rice farmers in the Katy area.

Since trade with Cuba began in December of 2001, U.S. exporters of agricultural goods to Cuba have followed explicitly both the letter and spirit of the law, Roberts said.

The law Roberts referred to prohibits U.S. citizens from extending credit on sales of U.S. agricultural products to Cuban buyers. Roberts said US Rice Producers Association was strongly supportive of this legislation in 1999 and 2000 and continues to support it today.

"Cash sales of agriculture exports to Cuba have gone forward, often facilitated with financing by a third country bank," Roberts said.

Sales of U.S. rice to Cuba have grown from nothing to a $65 million market from 2001 through 2004. Cuba has grown to be our third largest export market for rice. This new market is critical because U.S. rice producers must export one half of their crop to remain profitable, according to Roberts.

"Any administrative move to restrict the terms of sales to Cuba will be a step backward, and risk shutting down a desperately needed export market for US rice producers," Roberts said.

"The uncertainty and disruption caused over recent months by this issue have caused the delay of shipments and endangers our reputation as reliable suppliers," Roberts said. "Rice producers hope that our government will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with us to open new markets like Cuba for U.S. rice sales - and to facilitate those sales as Congress intended."
MGR Archive 17.2.2005
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Russia Rapan $ 700
USA Jupiter Rice $630
USA Calrose #1 $830
USA Calrose #1 Paddy $480
EU Prices Baldo €660
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