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Cuba Consortium Agriculture & Food Roundtable to be Held in Arkansas

Hutchinson, Daschle, Cuban Experts To Headline March Event Hosted By Winrock International, Winthrop Rockefeller Institute And Howard Baker Forum 

MORRILTON, Ark. (March 11, 2016) – For 50 years, silence has reigned between the United States and Cuba. But warming relations between the two countries is now a hot topic — and Arkansas is poised to lead the conversation.

On March 21-22, agriculture and Cuba will take center stage in Arkansas as Winrock International, the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and The Howard Baker Forum convene The Cuba Consortium Agriculture and Food Roundtable on Petit Jean Mountain in Morrilton, Ark.

Former Senator Tom Daschle and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson will headline an assembly of policy experts, government officials and agriculture leaders that includes Cuban trade official Ruben Ramos Arrieta and University of Havana and Yale professor Dr. Reinaldo Funes Monzote. The invitation-only roundtable will address how normalizing relations with the Caribbean nation could affect the American food and agriculture sector.

Senator Daschle, who chairs The Cuba Consortium Advisory Board with Senator Nancy Kassebaum, said, “The Agriculture and Food Roundtable will play an important role in the conversation on U.S.-Cuba relations. The Cuba Consortium is excited to partner with Winrock International and the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute to convene a knowledgeable group for a robust discussion on agricultural trade with Cuba.”

“Arkansas continues to drive the global dialogue in support of agricultural cooperation,” said Winrock President & CEO Rodney Ferguson, who was part of Governor Hutchinson’s trade mission to Cuba in September and also serves on the Advisory Board for The Cuba Consortium.

“We are grateful to our partners at the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute and the Howard Baker Forum for making this event a reality.”

Said Dr. Marta Loyd, Executive Director of the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute: “Normalizing relations with Cuba could be important to Arkansas producers.

“It’s an issue that requires informed dialogue among a wide variety of stakeholders and policymakers. We are pleased to partner with Winrock International and the Howard Baker Forum to facilitate this meaningful discussion.”

Roundtable topics will focus on key aspects of Cuban agriculture and current efforts to further agricultural trade with Cuba, with participation from leaders in agribusiness, agricultural policy and education. Themes include: barriers to lifting the trade embargo, an overview of Cuban agriculture, and human rights concerns in Cuba.

The event is a program of The Cuba Consortium. The Cuba Consortium is an assembly of companies, nonprofit organizations, investors, academics and entrepreneurs organized to track and examine the normalization process in both countries and to inform and prepare its members for opportunities to engage Cuba. They are complemented by foreign policy, political, economic, international development, legal and cultural experts who have specialized knowledge of the diplomacy, politics and economics of the normalization process. The Cuba Consortium, a program of The Howard Baker Forum, is guided by an Advisory Board consisting of former officials, subject matter experts and international business leaders.

Confirmed Speakers Include:

  • Governor Asa Hutchinson, Governor of Arkansas
  • Senator Tom Daschle, Founder, The Daschle Group
  • Senator John Boozman, U.S. Senator from Arkansas (video participation)
  • Representative Rick Crawford, 1st Congressional District of Arkansas (Skype participation)
  • Ruben Ramos Arrieta, Minister Counselor, Economic and Trade Office, Embassy of Cuba
  • Scott Campbell, President, The Howard Baker Forum
  • Rodney Ferguson, President & Chief Executive Officer, Winrock International
  • Terry Harris, Vice President, Riceland Foods, Inc.
  • Dr. Marta Loyd, Executive Director, Winthrop Rockefeller Institute
  • DeAnn McGrew, Director, Agriculture & Volunteer Programs, Winrock International
  • William A. Messina, Jr., Agricultural Economist, University of Florida Food & Resource Economics Department
  • Dr. Reinaldo Funes Monzote, Professor of History, University of Havana (Henry Hart Rice Family Foundation Visiting Professor, Yale University)
  • Randy Veach, President, Arkansas Farm Bureau

The event is being made possible by the generous support of Riceland Foods, Arkansas Farm Bureau, the Arkansas Rice Council, University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, Arkansas Cattleman’s Association and the Agricultural Council of Arkansas.

Hutchinson, Ferguson, Loyd and Campbell will be available for media interviews following Hutchinson’s address Monday evening, March 21. All media interested in covering the event should contact Jeff LeMaster at 501-247-3651 or Dave Anderson at 917-304-0665.


About Winrock International

Winrock International is a recognized leader in U.S. and international development with a focus on social, agricultural and environmental issues. Winrock strives to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity and sustain natural resources across the globe. The organization is named after Winthrop Rockefeller, who cut a unique path as an economic and governmental leader in the rural American South in the 1950s. Winrock began with the creation of an international livestock research and training center atop Petit Jean Mountain in Morrilton, Arkansas, and lives on providing sustainable and integrated solutions to the world’s most pressing issues.

About the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute

In 2005, the University of Arkansas System established the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute with a grant from the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust. By integrating the resources and expertise of the University of Arkansas System with the legacy and ideas of Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller, this educational institute and conference center creates an atmosphere where collaboration and change can thrive. Program areas include Agriculture, Arts and Humanities, Civic Engagement, Economic Development, and Health. To learn more,

About The Howard Baker Forum

The Howard Baker Forum was founded by former Senator Howard Baker in Washington, D.C., to provide a platform for examining specific, immediate, critical issues affecting the nation’s progress at home and its relations abroad. The Forum organizes a variety of programs and research projects to examine and illuminate public policy challenges facing the nation today. The Howard Baker Forum is a public and international affairs affiliate of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell, and Berkowitz, P.C.

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