The roundup of Arkansas opinions on normalizing trade with Cuba was not surprising. What continues to be cause for moderate interest is how little Arkansas agriculture matters in the political equation.

POSITIVE ON OBAMA ACTION ON CUBA

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Delta Grassroots Caucus

Arkansas Rice Federation

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Agricultural Council of Arkansas

Sen. John Boozman

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Riceland Foods

Tyson Foods

Arkansas Farm Bureau

Arkansas Agriculture Secretary Butch Calhoun

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Farm Bureau President David Hillman

Gov. Mike Beebe

U.S. Rick Crawford (cautiously)

AGAINST OBAMA ON CUBA

Rep. Tom Cotton

Rep. Steve Womack

Cotton, remember, voted against the farm bill this year, claiming it was only food stamp spending that motivated him. Here, he has an excuse, too, the Cuban regime. Voters have clearly said they are happy for Cotton to be an outlier on issues with dramatic impact on the state’s biggest economic sector. They said it once before in electing Boozman over Senate Agriculture Chair Blanche Lincoln. But even John Boozman sees the importance to Arkansas of U.S. trade with Cuba and seems also to realize a strong relationship with the U.S. could do more damage to the administration Cotton and others detest than the embargo. A half-century gone and little has changed. Maybe it’s time for a change in tactics.

FOR CUBAN TRADE, EMERITUS

Bill Alexander and Vic Snyder

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