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Port Councils Urge Senate To Reject Latest Cargo Preference Attack


Port Maritime Councils across the United States are calling their local U.S. Senate offices to oppose resolutions that would leave American mariners on the docks while U.S.-grown grain and food products sail overseas.

Senate Concurrent Resolutions 37 and 38 call for a “temporary” waiver of cargo preference laws to allow foreign-flag, foreign-crewed vessels to move Food for Peace cargo to aid Ukraine and other markets affected by Russia’s unjust attack on Ukraine. While the MTD fully supports the need to get food and other goods to those in need, it strongly opposes abandoning U.S. mariners – who have dependably delivered around the world since the founding of the United States.

“When people are hungry and hurting, Americans have traditionally stepped up to help,” stated MTD President Michael Sacco. “But we don’t need to step on our merchant mariners to do this.”

USA Maritime – a coalition of U.S.-flag ship operators, maritime unions and maritime trade associations – called the resolutions “unnecessary.” In its statement delivered to the Senate on May 5, the group added, “They are not limited only to supplies for Ukraine but would waive Ship American rules everywhere. Resolution 37 would waive Ship American rules indefinitely; Resolution 38 would divert cargoes to foreign carriers for an arbitrary three-year period.”

In messages to his state’s senators, Hawaii Ports Maritime Council President Randy Swindell said, “There is no better way for the recipients of our aid to know where it comes from than by delivering it on American-flagged vessels with American crews.”

The resolutions, being pushed by U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and Chris Coons (D-DE), include discredited shipping costs. As USA Maritime pointed out, “All ocean shipping – U.S. and foreign costs combined – are only 8% of the [Food for Peace] program costs. The premium for hiring U.S.-flag ships is less than 1% of program costs.”

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