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Rice farmers hope Cuban trade could spur local boost

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BATON ROUGE – Rice is a big part of Louisiana’s culture, and the state grows more than almost every other state in the country.

Now, state leaders are hoping to expand the industry even more, by trading with Cuba.

Just west of Baton Rouge, rice farms are working diligently providing the food we all know and love. This year, rice industry leaders have their eye on Cuba, a nation that imports about the same amount of rice that Louisiana grows.

But exporting that rice to Cuba has been impossible for the last fifty years.

“The US is not allowed to sell rice to Cuba,” Jim Guinn said. “If we were able to, it’s one of the largest markets in the western hemisphere for rice.”

Now that diplomatic relations are slowly starting to thaw, local products may soon leave our ports headed straight to the island.

Louisiana exports about half of the rice it produces, and because of its location, experts say trading to Cuba is a no brainer. It could also provide a much needed economic boost to local farmers.

Farmers like Kevin Berkin are struggling to make ends meet. That’s why he supports the state’s efforts to branch out and explore new markets.

State leaders, local farmers and businessmen are planning to take a trip to Cuba in July to discuss new moves for trade, tourism and economic development.

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