U.S.-based NGOs Oppose Costly Changes To Cargo Preference That Cut U.S. International Food Aid Programs

Published April 29, 2014

The organizations listed below strongly oppose Section 318 of H.R. 4005, the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act of 2014, which passed the House of Representatives on April 1, 2014. This provision would increase from 50 percent to 75 percent the portion of U.S.-sourced food aid commodities that must be transported on privately owned, U.S.-flagged commercial vessels. The Department of Homeland Security has warned that this change would increase transportation costs for U.S. international food aid programs by $75 million annually, and result in at least 2 million vulnerable people losing access to life-saving food aid from the United States.                                                                     
This proposed change to cargo preference immediately follows the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, which eliminated mandated reimbursements intended to offset part of the ocean freight cost of international food aid programs.  Together, the cumulative effect drastically increases the cost of shipping U.S. food and will have an overwhelmingly negative impact on the ability to operate food aid programs efficiently.  

Furthermore, an increase in agricultural cargo preference requirements would wipe out the efficiency gains made to international food aid programs in the recently passed bipartisan Farm Bill and the FY2014 omnibus appropriations bill, dramatically reducing the overall number of vulnerable people fed by life-saving U.S. food aid.  Adoption of Section 318 would also reverse the bipartisan decision by Congress in 2012 to reduce cargo preference requirements for U.S.-sourced food aid from 75 percent to the current level of 50 percent.

When 842 million people around the world go hungry every day, making every food aid dollar count is both a responsible use of taxpayer money and a moral imperative.  We should allocate more of our resources to feed the poor and most vulnerable, not less.  U.S. food aid saves millions of lives each year.  Therefore, we urge the Senate to reject any actions that increase transportation costs for food aid and prevent hungry people around the world from receiving U.S. food assistance.


Action Aid USA

Mercy Corps

Action Against Hunger | ACF USA

Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network


Mennonite Central Committee U.S. Washington Office

American Jewish World Service


Bread for the World

Oxfam America


Quixote Center

Catholic Relief Services


Church World Service

Save the Children

Concern Worldwide (US) Inc.

The Borgen Project

Faiths for Safe Water

The Hunger Project

Helen Keller International

United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society


World Food Program

Lutheran World Relief

Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns