COLORADO POLITICS - The U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Wednesday gave strong approval to the 2018 farm bill, known as the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018.

The 20-1 vote now moves the bill to the Senate floor. The one “no” vote came from Republican Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, who raised objections during Wednesday’s hearing on the bill’s inclusion of industrial hemp.

The hearing was intended to allow additional amendments to the bipartisan measure, which Tuesday drew support from Colorado’s senior senator, Democrat Michael Bennet, a committee member.

Bennet was a co-sponsor of an amendment offered by Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota to include trade with Cuba in the bill. That committee adopted the amendment.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has been an advocate for opening relations with Cuba. He traveled to the island nation in February 2017 as part of a delegation on culture and business. Hickenlooper said at the time he hoped for opportunities for Colorado tourism and agriculture.

U.S. exports to Cuba topped $250 million in 2017, largely for chicken, although soybeans and corn were also popular exports. That represents an increase of more than $50 million over 2016.

Read more about this at Colorado Politics.