A bill recently approved by the House would require 75 percent of U.S. food aid to be transported on privately owned, U.S.-flagged commercial vessels. The cost: An estimated $75 million that could be spent on lifesaving food assistance.
The law would effectively deprive 2 million people of food assistance in crisis areas such as South Sudan, Syria, and the Central African Republic. The cargo preference requirement, previously at 50 percent, has little benefit for anyone who is not a shipping tycoon.
Proponents claim that subsidized U.S.-flagged cargo ships improve military readiness. The U.S. Department of Defense and Government Accountability Office reject this argument, calling the ships expensive and inefficient.
The food aid program is one of the best things this country does as a humanitarian and diplomatic tool. Millions of taxpayer dollars for this valuable program shouldn’t be squandered — and millions of people shouldn’t have to go without food — because of an industry handout.