Thank you for your timely and insightful editorial “Rough Water: U.S. Food Aid Imperiled by Proposed Shipping Rule” (June 12). Earlier this year, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act. One of the relatively small but harmful provisions in the act would have a very detrimental impact on U.S. international food aid while providing greater subsidies to large shipping conglomerates, many of them foreign-owned shipping companies.
Two years ago, our laws reduced a requirement that privately owned, U.S.-flagged commercial vessels transport 75 percent of U.S. food aid down to 50 percent. With that change (less than 1 percent of their annual volume), no company was negatively impacted putting them out of business. Now, the Senate is being asked to go along with the House to return the requirement back to 75 percent.
This action would deprive 2 million people of food aid at a time when natural disasters around the world are on the rise and even greater assistance is needed. I have seen, firsthand, the tremendous impact of poverty and hunger on people around the world. Hunger anywhere, at home or abroad, diminishes us all.
I urge Post-Gazette readers to take action to prevent this from happening by calling Sens. Bob Casey and Pat Toomey at 800-826-3688 and asking that they oppose any increase to transportation costs for U.S. food aid. Two million lives depend upon it!
REV. KATHY CLARK
The writer is a member of Southwestern Pennsylvania Bread for the World and associate field director of Church World Service.