The possibility of a long weekend in Havana has lots of folks excited about the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act of 2010, the latest attempt to end the decades-long travel ban and trade embargo on Cuba. But it's the prospect of a new market for exports, not the chance to go salsa dancing, that has a group of Texas farmers excited about the bill.
In August the Austin American-Statesman visited a community of rice farmers outside of Houston who are eager to supply the white rice that is a staple of the Cuban diet. Relaxing the export restrictions would mean more to eat for Cubans and more much-needed customers for Texas. Opening up agricultural exports to Cuba would result in gains of $18.4 million annually for Texas farmers, according to a report from state agricultural research group AgriLife, and $365 million in new exports nationwide.