Cuba formally accepts 20-ton shipment of Missouri rice in effort to re-establish trade relationship
HAVANA, Cuba — Cuba formally accepted on Monday a 20-ton shipment of high-quality, long-grain rice grown and processed in southeast Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon announced in a news release on Monday.
The following are more details from the release/announcement.
The announcement was made before an entrepreneurial forum being held for members of a Missouri trade delegation and Cuban businesses and officials from the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Trade and Investment and the Cuba Chamber of Commerce.
“Missouri farmers and workers produce the highest-quality products in the world and we are here to expand opportunities to get Missouri goods to Cuban consumers,” Gov. Nixon said. “Missouri rice is a microcosm of the opportunities trade offers…. Trade with Cuba would mean additional acreage for Missouri growers of this high-value crop and it would also mean better values for Cuban consumers, for whom rice is a staple of their diet.”
There have been no U.S. rice sales to Cuba since 2008. The rice delivered to Cuba is from the Martin Rice Company of Bernie, Mo., and was grown in southeast Missouri, where rice has been a leading crop for generations. Missouri now ranks fourth among U.S. states in rice production. Cuba was once a leading export market for Missouri rice. The 20-ton shipment of Missouri rice arrived at the deep-water Port of Mariel last week and was sent to the people of Cuba by Martin Rice at no cost.
Martin Rice owners David, Mike and Tim Martin, members of the Missouri trade delegation, and Gov. Nixon distributed small bags of milled Martin Rice to Cuban attendees at Monday’s entrepreneurial forum to commemorate the rice shipment. They also participated in the March 2015 Missouri trade delegation that was the first U.S. state trade mission to Cuba after President Barack Obama announced plans to normalize relations.
“Cuba was once a leading export destination for Missouri rice and we believe the in-roads we’ve been making since our first visit here and meetings we’re now having with Cuban officials can help re-establish Cuba as a buyer of Missouri rice,” Mike Martin said. “Rice is a relatively high-value crop and we believe once the Cuban market opens up, Missouri farmers will plant and grow more rice to take advantage of this opportunity. We also look forward to the day when Cuban goods are readily available to consumers in Missouri and the U.S.”
Gov. Nixon is also meeting with leading members of the Cuban government officials in the areas of trade and agriculture. He and the delegation are scheduled to tour Cuba’s deep-water Port of Mariel Tuesday.