U.S. Congressman Ted Poe delivered the following remarks on the House floor this morning in support of trading rice with Cuba:

Mr. Speaker, I rise this morning to highlight the importance of free trade and the merits of agricultural trade particularly rice trade with Cuba. An injunction against tourism is one thing but our sanctions against Castros regime, which have been in place since 1963, should not prevent our nation from selling our farm products to the people there. Mr. Speaker, the Cuban people will eat rice. If we wont sell it to them, they will get it elsewhere. Why are we economically punishing ourselves, our farmers in the name of punishing the Communists in Cuba?

The Cuban market remained closed until this body passed the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2000. With the reopening mandated by this Act, rice sales to Cuba have grown to $64 million per year. But now we hear that some want to slash back this momentous trade for political reasons.

The federal government [the Treasury Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)] announced it was redefining the definition of payment of cash in advance a ruling which could jeopardize future trade. This bureaucracy is getting in the way of the law. As Cubans begin looking to Vietnam, Thailand, and other sources for rice, I encourage my colleagues to co-sign H.R. 1339 to further explain in simple terms to government bureaucrats that U.S. farmers should be allowed to trade with Cuba on a cash-for-crop basis.