Outsourcing control over food aid is not the answer

Farah Stockman’s column (“Food aid fattens up lobbyists,” Op-ed, Dec. 11) is woefully misguided. America’s food aid programs are cost-effective and reliable, spreading democracy, protecting American security interests, helping farmers, and feeding the hungry. Thanks to cargo preference laws and the Food for Peace program, the US Merchant Marine has delivered aid to more than 3 billion people in 150 countries.

Eliminating cargo preference would kill the jobs of US merchant mariners who support our troops in wartime, since the same mariners who transport food assistance also delivered more than 90 percent of defense cargo to our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Outsourcing control over food aid funding through local purchase opens up the program to potential waste and abuse. In fact, according to the Government Accountability Project, Sri Lanka’s system that Stockman points to as a success for local purchase remains riddled with corruption.


There’s also evidence that local purchase isn’t necessarily cheaper than the current system.

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The Food for Peace program is one of the most effective federal programs. When so much in government is broken, why fix something that isn’t?

The US Merchant Marine is proud of the work we’ve done to end global hunger, and we will fight to continue that work.

James Henry


USA Maritime