Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., is expected to introduce legislation this week that would open the door to more agricultural exports to Cuba. American farmers view Cuba as a lucrative, largely untapped market. The finance panel chairman has introduced legislation aimed at increasing agricultural exports to Cuba in previous years.
Senators Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Mary Landrieu, D-La., Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., Mark Pryor, D-Ark., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., have signed on as co-sponsors. Previous bills would have prohibited the President from restricting payments from Cuban financial institutions and would have directed the Secretary of Agriculture to promote exports to Cuba.
The Baucus Cuban Trade bill is expected to meet a lot of opposition. In 2000 Congress passed legislation that allowed Cuba to buy agricultural commodities from the U.S., but the Treasury Department curbed exports by interpreting the law to require payment before goods are shipped.