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Peterson: Cuba exports bill could pass House in April

WASHINGTON — A bill to lift the travel ban to Cuba and ease rules on agricultural exports to the island nation could pass the House in April, Rep. Collin Peterson said. Peterson’s comments came in an interview with Bloomberg’s Jonathan Levin (you can find his report here).

Minnesota currently exports $51.9 million in agricultural products to Cuba, mostly soybeans wheat and related products. U.S. products make up about 30 percent of Cuba’s agricultural imports, though easing export restrictions could increase that number to between half and two-thirds, according to a 2007 U.S. International Trade Commission report.

Here’s the key bit of that Bloomberg report:

The U.S. House of Representatives may pass a bill next month that would cut restrictions on agricultural exports to Cuba and lift a ban on travel to the island, the measure’s sponsor said.

Congressman Collin Peterson, chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, said he needs backing from one more lawmaker to assure the panel will pass the legislation. He expects to secure that pledge after Congress’s Easter recess, and for the measure to get approval by the full House.

“Cuba used to be one of our big markets,” Peterson, a Minnesota Democrat, said in a telephone interview yesterday. The bill “would help us get those markets back.”

Read the entire Bloomberg report here. Our earlier report on what this could mean for Minnesota is here.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar has introduced a companion measure in the Senate, where the legislation could face a bit more trouble than in the House due to the need to clear the 60-vote filibuster hurdle.

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