Minnesota Democrat Collin Peterson is lending his heft as House Agriculture Committee chairman to end the travel ban to Cuba.

The decades-old Cuban trade embargo – which effectively bans travel as well – has long been unpopular with Midwestern farm interests looking for new export markets. Peterson introduced legislation this week that not only would end all travel restrictions, but also make it easier to sell food to Cuba by cutting the red tape and allowing direct payments by the Cubans to U.S. banks. The bill has been endorsed by ag groups like the American Soybean Association, which says the U.S. exported $134 million worth of soy products to Cuba in 2008, and could easily do more. The bill, with 33 co-sponsors, reignites normalization efforts in Congress that have been largely moribund since 2003, after a particularly harsh crackdown on dissidents in Cuba. That wasn't long after Jesse Ventura's famous trade mission to Cuba, where the Minnesota governor asked Fidel Castro point-blank if he had anything to do with the JFK assassination. (The answer, in sum: "What? Do you think I'm crazy?"). The Obama administration has already relaxed restrictions on Cuban-Americans who want to visit and send money to relatives in the communist island nation. But further attempts at normalization have been stymied in diplomatic maneuvering on both sides of the Straits of Florida.