Voice to Congress

Fund Food for Peace!
The Issue
The Food for Peace food aid program is one of our most important cargo preference programs. It creates quality jobs for American mariners during peacetime, provides an efficient and cost-effective means of maintaining essential national defense sealift readiness capability, and it serves as a transparent, reliable, and time-tested tool for fulfilling America's diplomatic and humanitarian objectives. The fiscal year 2021 budget request zeroes out funding and eliminates this vital program entirely after the cargo preference requirement was reduced from 75% to 50% in 2012.

Global food assistance is required as drought, continuing conflict, and other crises persist around the world. According to the UN World Food Programme, 842 million people, or one in nine, are currently suffering from chronic hunger, while over 213 million children worldwide contend with stunting or wasting due to malnutrition. Going into 2020, USAID’s Famine Early Warning System Network projects an uptick in food insecurity, with nearly 100 million people in need of emergency food assistance. With hunger on the rise, now is the time for America to continue its leadership role in the world by showing full support for its international food security programs.

Cargo preference programs like this one account for almost all of the revenues of the US.-flag international fleet according to the Congressional Research Service. Since 1954, the size of the government owned fleet has been restricted and the military is required to turn to the private sector for government-impelled cargo, but today some members of Congress are intent on reducing cargo preference programs that ensure this capacity is preserved. This spring, the Maritime Administration testified to Congress that the U.S. has a shortage of about 1,800 mariners, which means sealift could not be sustained during a war for longer than six months.  Without programs like Food for Peace, this problem could get even worse.

The Solution
The Navy League is urging Congress to match the $1.85 billion from the FY20 Agriculture bill for Food for Peace and $235 for McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program, and ensure at least 75% of U.S. sourced products are transported on U.S.-flag ships.

The 75% requirement for U.S.-flag ships will strengthen the U.S.-flag merchant marine fleet. Cargo preference programs like Food for Peace are crucial to ensuring the health of the ocean-going U.S.-flag fleet and ensures a well-trained pool of American mariners. The U.S.-flag Merchant Marine is a valuable national asset; the Department of Defense has repeatedly stated that this public-private partnership would cost billions of dollars to replicate.

Why you should take action
The Administration eliminated funding for Food for Peace in the President's 2021 Budget request, and a coalition of groups is working to eliminate any cargo preference requirements from the program even if it is funded. We need your voice to support Food for Peace, the U.S.-flag fleet, and American mariner jobs.


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