Rice Farmers Face Uphill Battle on Ending Cuban Trade Embargo

MARCH 25, 2005 - Posted at 7:23 a.m. CST

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Little hope for Arkansas rice farmers from U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez that the nation's embargo against Cuba would end.

Rice growers in particular want to see Cuba trade sanctions lifted.  Rice farmers are trying to fight proposed government agriculture cuts and watching Cuba buy rice from other countries while Arkansas has a bumper rice crop from last year in storage.

Gutierrez did say he wants to open trade with more nations and to build solid trade agreements.  He also said there should be a "national conversation" about reforming Social Security.  He said the program is destined for eventual bankruptcy without reforming its finances.

Gutierrez, who was sworn in last month, spoke at the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce yesterday, spreading President Bush's message about the need for Social Security reform.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)