FOOD AID

foodforpeaceUSA Maritime endorses and seeks sustainable funding for the PL 480 Food for Peace program, and therefore strongly opposes amendments to cut deeply the program’s commodity shipments. Since FY 2008, Food for Peace funding has already been cut 35%.

Even though funding is the lowest in years, the need for Food for Peace is greater than ever. According to the USDA, 12 million metric tons of commodities are needed each year to fill food gaps in the 70 most food insecure countries. The number of hungry people has increased to 925 million from 833 million at the end of 2002, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. In many cases, Food for Peace is the difference between life and death. And the program has served an essential role in helping stabilize countries, support foreign policy, and build important trade links for our farmers in countries like India, Poland, Romania, and Egypt.

Unlike other foreign aid programs, the program does more than just send aid overseas. Food for Peace is a point of pride for the 44,000 American Farmers, shippers, processors, port workers, and merchant mariners whose jobs depend upon the program. Food for Peace is not just a handout. It’s the sharing of American bounty and American know-how to help rescue those less fortunate from starvation and chronic food insecurity. By creating a uniquely sustainable public-private partnership between American faith-based organizations, US industry, and the US Government, Food for Peace leverages private and public resources to make a meaningful difference for millions of people in a way that Government alone simply cannot.

Last year, General Duncan McNabb, former Commanding General of the US Transportation Command stated that the availability of food aid cargoes is essential to maintaining the US Merchant Fleet, and therefore essential to maintaining our national defense sealift capability. In the industry, we know this to be true. And we agree with General McNabb’s assessment that any decrease in food aid tonnage would have to be compensated for elsewhere in order to maintain that capability and keep those ships sailing. As the wars overseas wind down, we need to be looking harder at how to ensure a sustainable flow of civilian preference cargoes for our fleet. Otherwise we will lose those ships and cargoes to other nations, and more importantly, lose the skilled merchant mariners who cannot readily be replaced when needed to crew the Government and private vessels that support our troops overseas or to respond to a national or international emergency.

Proposals to slash funding for food aid and the tonnage of food aid shipped abroad will be harmful to our US Merchant Marine and harmful to our national sealift capability. Farm Bill Proposals to shift program resources away from the purchase and shipment of commodities and into administrative costs will be similarly harmful, as will proposals to buy commodities from foreign (sometimes called “local and regional”) suppliers instead of from American farmers. Therefore, USA Maritime encourages Congress to sustain PL 480 funding, and to draft a Farm Bill that will ensure this program continues to focus on the export of US-grown commodities to those in need overseas, focusing upon how we can best maximize the amount of life-saving food shipped for each scarce budget dollar.

 

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Journey of Food AidThousands of Americans are involved in growing and transporting food aid. The Journey of U.S. Food Aid takes you from the farm to the ports across the ocean and finally to the lands where aid is delivered. Click on the book to flip through its contents.