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A coalition of U.S.-flag shipowners, unions and trade associations have reached out to President Donald Trump seeking his administration’s support for foreign aid food programs that help feed the world’s hungry.

In a letter dated January 31, 2017, USA Maritime Chairman James L. Henry wrote, “As a strong supporter of American jobs and putting America first, we urge you to ensure that USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) and USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) end their misguided attempts at turning PL 480 into a cash giveaway program that would kill American jobs and waste taxpayer money.”

Henry pointed out that programs like PL 480 – also known as Food for Peace – Food for Progress and Food for Education have been very successful at feeding “billions of hungry people around the world through our in-kind food donation programs.” He noted efforts by the previous administration that would have shifted Food for Peace from “an in-kind based program that provides a domestic benefit, and turning it instead into an overseas cash giveaway program with minimal oversight or accountability. Continuation of such policies would be disastrous for American jobs and American workers.”

Since the inception of Food for Peace during the Eisenhower administration, the MTD has been, and remains, a strong supporter of PL 480 and its similar programs. Among the unions involved with USA Maritime are the MTD-affiliated Seafarers International Union, the American Maritime Officers; the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, the Maritime Engineers’ Beneficial Association; and the Sailors’ Union of the Pacific.

“The United States Merchant Marine has been a proud partner with our colleagues in the agricultural community to keep this program going strong for more than six decades,” Henry advised the President. “Unlike other foreign aid programs, Food for Peace has always had broad, bipartisan support because it yields a domestic economic benefit by promoting American jobs while also serving to help others abroad.”

Additionally, the programs sustain a strong, vibrant U.S.-flag merchant fleet with well-trained American crews for the nation’s defense and economic security.

Finally, Henry noted, “The Food for Peace, Food for Progress and Food for Education programs are critical to the continued success of the United States Merchant Marine, and they promote domestic agriculture while serving as a diplomatic tool to express the generosity of the American people.”