Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Important Farm Bill Meeting

From rising fuel and fertilizer prices to severe weather, Arkansas farmers are faced with tremendous obstacles. Because of these and other issues affecting producers, I will be hosting three meetings to discuss the upcoming 2007 Farm Bill during the first week in July.

At these meetings, we will discuss the status of this legislation as well as the potential impact this bill will have on our farm families. We must ensure the new Farm Bill will maintain a strong safety net for farmers so they can continue to supply Americans with the cheapest and safest source of food and fiber in the world. With your input, I believe that we can work together with Congress to maintain and improve the safety net for American farmers for the next Farm Bill.

I would like to extend a personal invitation to you and hope you will be able to attend one of three meetings that will be happening throughout the district. Below is more detail about the meeting locations. I hope to see you there.

Meeting Times and Locations:

Monday, July 2nd
8:30 a.m.
Phillips Community College – Stuttgart, AR
Seminar Room, A111

Monday, July 2nd
1:00 p.m.
Mid South Community College - West Memphis, AR
McGruder Hall, Room 108

Tuesday, July 3rd
9:00 a.m.
Paragould Community Center – Paragould, AR
Room B

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Lifting Embargo Would Benefit Arkansas

Recently, I traveled to Cuba with House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro and a bipartisan Congressional Delegation to continue the dialogue of increasing trade with Cuba. While I was there, I met with some of the country's top officials and had a very promising discussion about current and future trade policies with Cuba.

One of the Cuba's top imports is long-grain rice. Currently, Cuba consumes 770,000 metric tons of rice a year but only 100,000 metric tons are imported from the United States. Because Arkansas is the leading producer of rice in the United States, our state could benefit from an increased demand of rice from Cuba.

During my trip, Cuban officials told us they would like to increase rice imports from the U.S. and buy at least 400,000 metric tons annually, much of which would come from our state. Right now most of Cuba's rice imports come from countries like Vietnam and China, which have a delivery time of up to 45 days. By buying more rice from the U.S., which only has a delivery time of about a day and a half, both Cuba and Arkansas can benefit tremendously from this improved relationship.

Ending the current embargo will get the United States into the growing Cuban market, which will give Arkansas an unprecedented economic boost. With its location and safe, abundant food supply, the United States should be a natural choice to meet Cuba's food needs.

I believe that food should never be used as a political tool. Agriculture is the backbone of America, and I will continue to support efforts to open the Cuban markets to Arkansas agricultural products. This is simply a win-win for everyone involved.