Berry Reiterates Call to Lift Trade Embargo with Cuba

LITTLE ROCK, AR - U.S. Representative Marion Berry says lifting the trade embargo on Cuba could help Arkansas and the rest of the nation sell rice and other products to the island nation.

The First District Democrat from Arkansas was among a delegation of five congressional leaders to Cuba last week for an agriculture summit.  Speaking with reporters on a conference call today, Berry agreed with the representatives that the embargo should be lifted and that the U.S. shouldn't "let politics get in the way of good policy."

The U.S. has held a 45-year trade embargo on the Communist nation.  However, new rules put in place in 2000 allowed increased agricultural trade with Cuba.  These rules allowed a one-year bubble in trade between Arkansas and Cuba before the rules were clarified to require cash in advance before shipping products.

Lifting the embargo could get the U.S. into a Cuban market that consumes an estimated 770,000 tons of rice a year.  That could be a big market for Arkansas.  Last year, state farmers harvested 1.4 million acres of rice, worth more than $892 million.

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