Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., secured 20 yes votes from Senate Appropriations Committee members in support of his amendment to bar the Treasury Department from enforcing its U.S.-Cuba regulation in fiscal year (FY) 2012. The regulation requires that cash payments for Cuban purchases of U.S. agricultural goods be transferred through a third-country bank.  If the amendment were to become law, Cuban buyers could transfer funds directly to a U.S. bank. Moran amended the committee's FY 2012 Financial Services and General Government appropriations bill, which includes Treasury Department funding.  

Congress authorized the sale of U.S. farm commodities to Cuba in 2000, but only on a cash basis through third-country banks, which adds costs to U.S. agricultural exports, rendering them more expensive and less competitive.  

The committee bill goes next to the Senate for debate with timing on action uncertain.  

USA Rice Federation is an industry leader in promoting legislative and regulatory changes to expand trade and travel with Cuba, and was successful in encouraging rice-state senators to support the Moran amendment.