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Senators plan bill on food sales to Cuba

THE BALTIMORE SUN

WASHINGTON - A bipartisan group of U.S. senators wants to keep the Bush administration from making sales of food to Cuba more difficult.

Democratic Sen. Max Baucus of Montana and Republican Sens. Larry E. Craig of Idaho, Pat Roberts of Kansas and Richard G. Lugar of Indiana are to introduce legislation today that would ease restrictions on doing business with Cuba.

In part, the legislation is a response to efforts by the Bush administration to change the way Cuba pays American farmers for food.

The administration has been considering forcing Cuba to pay cash in advance of shipment for any food the island purchases from U.S. companies. Such a move, critics say, would jeopardize millions of dollars a year in food sales. In the first 11 months of last year, Cuba purchased $362.7 million in agricultural products from the United States, according to the U.S.-Cuba Trade and Economic Council, which monitors trade between the two countries.

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