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Ship owners may soon collect a bigger slice of U.S. food aid funding, thanks to new cargo preference provisions recently approved by the House of Representatives. 

More Food Aid Dollars for Freight Special Interests

June 6, 2014

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Ship owners may soon collect a bigger slice of U.S. food aid funding, thanks to new cargo preference provisions recently approved by the House of Representatives. Supported by the maritime shipping lobby, these pork-barrel provisions are part of the 2014 Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act, now in committee in the Senate.

According to economist Chris Barrett, director of Cornell’s Dyson School, the bill will raise food aid shipping costs by at least $75 million—without increasing national security or creating jobs. The money diverted from international food aid to U.S. special interests will mean less food reaches the vulnerable people who need it. Barrett writes:

Given a fixed food-aid budget, added ocean freight costs would translate into feeding 2 million or so fewer children and women affected by natural disasters and war. An honest policy debate would weigh the (at most minimal) gain in jobs and considerable profits to ship owners against the cost of abandoning malnourished children and their families around the world. The passing of this bill, however, would expressly stifle such debate. . . . Legislation that would take food out of the mouths of hungry people to line the pockets of foreign ship owners is just lobbyist-led highway robbery on the high seas.

Barrett’s op-ed about the proposed cargo preference provisions was featured in the pundits’ blog of The Hill, Capitol Hill’s largest-circulation paper.

Read more in The Hill.