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Senator Risch, Vincent Smith in The Hill: Giving U.S. Agencies More Flexibility in Managing Food Aid Shipments

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Vincent Smith, director of the American Enterprise Institute’s agricultural policy initiative, today published an op-ed in The Hill on why Congress must eliminate cargo preference for U.S. international emergency food assistance to address the international food security crisis.

There is an international food security crisis:

“In 2022 alone, the number of food insecure children and adults surged to 1.3 billion — an increase of 10 percent over the past year. Over 220 million people are likely to suffer from acute hunger in early 2023. The growing needs obviously have put a strain on the emergency food aid programs of the United States and its partners such as Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan.”

The Cargo Preference Act is part of the problem:

“The Cargo Preference Act requires that at least 50 percent of international U.S. food aid commodities be transported on U.S.-flagged ships. Initially, the mandate was put in place to ensure the availability of U.S.-flagged commercial vessels and the American mariners who crew them in a time of crisis. The concept harkens back to the days of Dunkirk. Yet, nearly 70 years and multiple major wars later, there’s never been another Dunkirk. The Cargo Preference Act has outlived its statutory purpose.”

“Overall, the requirements have raised annual transportation and related costs by $300 to $400 million and delayed deliveries by four to six months. These increased costs have prevented the United States from reaching as many as 8 to 10 million men, women, and children in dire need every year. Unless the United States waives cargo preference requirements for emergency food assistance, those mandates could cause even more extensive damage in 2023.”

The SAFE Act is a solution:

“Now is the time to eliminate cargo preference for U.S. international emergency food assistance. That is why the bipartisan Securing Allies Food in Emergency (SAFE) Act was introduced during the last Congress, which would give U.S. agencies much more flexibility in managing food aid shipments, while still encouraging U.S. sourcing for many commodities. This represents a responsible and safe way for the United States to address the current global food crisis while making the United States and many other parts of the world safer.”

To read the full op-ed on The Hill’s website, click here.