Military Readiness and Food Aid Cargo Preference: Many Costs and Few Benefits

Cargo Preference for Food Aid (CPFA), which requires at least 50 percent of all food aid to be sourced and shipped on US-flagged vessels, resulted in an additional $140 million to $200 million in wasted spending on shipping costs from January 2012 to May 2015. Although the main political rationale for preserving CPFA has been the need to maintain a viable oceangoing fleet of trained mariners for military preparedness, the most militarily useful ships in the US-flagged commercial mercantile fleet carried only 18 percent of all food aid shipments between 2011 and 2013. Food aid shipments accounted for less than 5 percent of those vessels’ total shipping capacity over that same period. By terminating the CPFA, the practice of monetization, and requirements that almost all food aid be sourced in the United States and maintaining current levels of federal funding, US emergency food aid programs could serve an additional 4–10 million people in dire need every year.

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