Recent U.S. Treasury Department rulings threaten a growing U.S. market for rice and other commodities, a representative of the U.S. Rice Producers Association and USA Rice Federation told members of Congress.

“Cuba has grown to be among our top five largest single-country export markets for U.S. rice,” says Dennis DeLaughter, a rice producer from Edna, Texas, who testified at a hearing held by the House Agriculture Committee.

“Since December 2001, $1 billion of agricultural goods have already been delivered and paid for by Cuba, he said. “These purchases included shipments of nearly 320,000 tons of U.S. rice worth a reported $81 million. In 2004, the Cubans bought $64 million worth of U.S. rice — more than their purchases of any other commodity.”

DeLaughter noted the growth of the export market in Cuba has been possible because of the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act (TSREEA) of 2000, which exempted sales of food and medicine from the exercise of any economic embargo against Cuba.