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Committee votes to expand U.S. ag trade to Cuba

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The House Agriculture Committee passed legislation last Thursday to expand U.S. agriculture trade and increase jobs, approving historic legislation that will greatly expand trade of U.S. agriculture products to Cuba.

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H.R. 4645, the Travel Restriction Reform and Export Enhancement Act, is a bipartisan bill introduced by Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minnesota) and co-sponsored by 62 Members of Congress, including Representatives Jerry Moran of Kansas. The bill passed the Committee by a vote of 25-20.

"I am proud to say that today, the House Agriculture Committee took a courageous vote to end the short-sighted and failed policy that limits American agriculture's access to the Cuban market." Peterson said. "An unprecedented coalition of agriculture, business, religious and social organizations have endorsed H.R. 4645, and today's vote demonstrates that Congress is ready to change our nation's approach on this issue."

Approximately 140 groups have expressed strong support for H.R. 4645, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Farmers Union, American Farm Bureau Federation, and Human Rights Watch. The House Agriculture Committee also received a letter signed by more than 70 pro-democracy Cuban leaders that strongly encouraged passage of H.R. 4645.

"This legislation is the right policy at the right time," Peterson said. "We have tried to isolate Cuba for more than 50 years, and it has not worked. As it has in other countries, perhaps increasing trade with Cuba will encourage democratic progress."

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