The House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a joint hearing to explore the intersection of food aid shipping and military sealift capacity, particularly that provided by the Maritime Security Program (MSP).
Officials from the Department of Defense, the Maritime Administration, and industry experts discussed how proposed changes to existing food aid programs and cargo preference rules could affect the viability of the U.S. maritime industry and the overall domestic support for international food aid.
“The agriculture and maritime communities have successfully partnered with private voluntary organizations to lead the global effort to alleviate hunger and malnutrition over the past 60 years. Today’s hearing reaffirmed the widely-held concern that disruptions to that historic partnership would have devastating effects on both our international food aid programs and our military readiness. Any effort to move away from in-kind donations in exchange for more cash-based assistance is concerning, especially since USAID has attempted to achieve these reforms by effectively driving a wedge between the maritime and agriculture communities. I thank my colleagues on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee for joining me in highlighting this important issue,” said Rep. David Rouzer (R-NC), Chairman of the Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.
“To remain a world power, with the ability to defend ourselves and our allies, it is critical that we maintain a robust fleet of United States flag commercial vessels to carry much needed supplies to the battlefield, food aid to countries in need, a large cadre of skilled American mariners to man those vessels, and a strong shipyard industrial base to ensure we have the capability to build and replenish our naval forces in times of war,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
“The United States, as a steward of the world, provides assistance to countries and regions that are less fortunate, and the farmers, ranchers, and dairymen that I represent in California’s Central Valley are proud that many of the commodities we produce go to individuals throughout the world who otherwise would go hungry and malnourished. Today’s hearing is important because it allows us to look at the challenges the maritime industry faces when transporting food products to countries and regions in need. International food aid programs are very beneficial for countries that do not have adequate resources to provide the quality of food that we produce here in the United States. From growing the fruits and vegetables to transporting them across the world, international food aid programs support good-paying jobs throughout the nation, especially in California and our Valley,”said Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture.
“The existing partnership between agriculture, the maritime industry, and government-sponsored food aid providers has been very effective in delivering aid where it’s needed most, while also supporting our domestic industries and our military readiness. A bag of American food delivered from an American ship is the best way to say that America cares. Keeping this partnership strong will also assist our troops in uniform: current sealift capacity is insufficient to meet needs that could arise in times of crisis, and maintaining a robust domestic fleet will help keep our military ready in an increasingly dangerous world,” said Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
Written testimony provided by the witnesses from today’s hearing is linked below. Click here for more information, including Subcommittee Chairman Rouzer’s opening statement, and the archived webcast.
Mr. David J. Berteau, Assistant Secretary of Defense, Logistics and Material Readiness, Department of Defense, Washington, DC
The Honorable Paul N. (Chip) Jaenichen, Sr., Administrator, Maritime Administration, Washington, DC
Mr. James E. Caponiti, President, American Maritime Congress, Washington, DC
Mr. Philip Shapiro, President and CEO, Liberty Maritime Corporation, New Hyde Park, NY
Captain John W. Murray, President and CEO, Hapag-Lloyd USA, LLC, Piscataway, NJ
Mr. Brian Schoeneman, Political and Legislative Director, Seafarers International Union, Washington, DC