Maritime industry issues defense against Corker, AEI | TheFencePost.com

Maritime industry issues defense against Corker, AEI

The U.S. maritime industry and the Seafarers Union International have accused Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Corker, R-Tenn., and the American Enterprise Institute of engaging in accusations and false claims in their criticism of rules that require 50 percent of U.S. food aid be shipped in U.S. vessels.

At an Oct. 23 Senate Foreign Relations hearing, Corker said that cargo preference is one of the "utterly ridiculous requirements" on food aid that the next farm bill should end, so that the U.S. government can use the food aid budget to feed more people in places that need food.

The same day, the American Enterprise Institute issued a paper calling for changes to food aid, including an end to cargo preference.

In a letter to The Hagstrom Report, USA Maritime Chairman James Henry said that Corker "misrepresents the value proposition of shipping Food for Peace cargoes with the U.S. Merchant Marine pursuant to our nation's cargo preference laws."

Food aid shipments are vital to "sustaining our national defense sealift capability," Henry said.

Brian Schoeneman, political and legislative director of the Seafarers International Union, added that "the AEI 'study' features a torrent of distortions, half-truths, and misinterpretations which we have refuted and will again refute. Unfortunately, the inability or unwillingness of these food security scholars to grasp the facts of the U.S. Merchant Marine and national defense sealift readiness does little to inform the discussion of our cargo preference laws."

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Schoeneman attached testimony that he gave to the House Agriculture Committee on June 7.