A group representing U.S.-flag shipping is criticizing the Obama Administration’s budget plan to replace U.S. food-aid shipments with cash payments that would be spent overseas.
Supporters of the change contend it would reduce costs and allow speedier shipment. James L. Henry, chaiman of USA Maritime, a Washington-based group representing U.S.-flag carriers, unions and maritime trade associations, disagreed.
Reform advocates “have twisted the truth about U.S. ocean shipping, forgotten our history, and neglected economic effects at home,” Henry said in a statement.
“Changing the food aid system will weaken the U.S. merchant marine, our national security and diplomatic effectiveness, and it will undermine the supply chain that delivers U.S.-produced food worldwide,” Henry said.
“The percentage of food aid budgets consumed by ocean freight has fallen 27 percent in recent years, and the cost of transporting PL-480 food aid on American commercial ships has decreased 22 percent for packaged products since 2009,” Henry said in a statement.
He said a 2008 comparison of U.S. and non-U.S.-flag transportation found that foreign-flag vessels were only 7.8 percent cheaper, a much smaller difference than claimed by advocates of cash payments.
“The cost of U.S.-flagged transportation is internationally competitive, and claims that U.S.-flagged shipping costs impede the efficacy of Food for Peace are unfounded,” Henry said.