What is in this article?:
- Farm bill's international food aid reforms not an easy choice.
- Would reforms take a heavy toll on U.S. jobs/defense readiness?
Splitting the baby
Is there a way to split the baby on this?
“Changes can be made. Everyone will take a haircut on this. It has to happen. We have to pay our bills.
“But the haircut they want out of the maritime industry is very significant. And it’s disturbing because they don’t realize what they’re doing. You can go in and ask them, ‘How will this impact the industry?’ They’ll look at you with a blank stare and admit they don’t know. Well, this is important in so many ways – maybe they should be able to explain this before taking such action.”
On feeding starving people while also maintaining U.S. jobs…
“Feeding people shouldn’t be the issue. No one should go hungry and there are a lot of starving people around the world. Just look at the Philippines, right now.
“I don’t want to see anyone starve but I don’t want to see U.S. people out of work. We can take care of both.
“One thing that surprises me is the lawmakers that say they’re all for more jobs. Yet, with these proposals, you’d be cutting U.S. jobs.”
Do you agree with the 33,000 jobs figure that will be impacted by the reforms?
“I do. And it isn’t just the 33,000 but a multiplier effect. When you lose mariners, you lose them forever. It takes so much time to become qualified.
“It’s important that people understand that U.S. grain doesn’t magically appear in the Philippines or Africa. There’s a process. Too few know what that process looks like.”
On strengthening a farmer/maritime coalition…
“Farmers need to know about this. Not only will mariners be affected negatively, so will farmers.
“The lawmakers need to put faces to these issues. That’s one thing that I learned on the Hill – you need to see a face to fully appreciate what a policy decision can mean. It’s easy to make a decision without a face. When you know someone affected, when that person in a member of your church or scouting troop, it makes it a heck of a lot more difficult cut funds, or whatever.
“People must get energized about this.”
More on the use of non-U.S.-flagged vessels and the true cost of sequestration…
“Money is allocated to the U.S. Transportation Command (TransCom). The Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and, to some extent, the Coast Guard go to the command and say, ‘Okay, we need to move X number of tanks or guns.’ Petroleum must also be moved to keep the naval vessels running.
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“Well, if you’ve just been cut because of sequestration and don’t want to pay the costs associated with U.S. mariners and vessels, you’ll give yourself a waiver and put all that stuff on foreign-flagged vessels.
“To me, that’s a huge security risk. But from TransCom’s perspective, the budget folks, that’s the cheapest way to move things.”
More on oversight and the farm bill conference make-up…
“Farm bill conferees are usually leaders on committees that provide general oversight. The general oversight of maritime issues isn’t represented in the farm bill conference. Someone made a strategic decision to put only agriculture folks on the committee.
“Well, that means there aren’t conferees that fully understand what’s going on in the maritime industry. I know how this works. So, the agriculture folks will just be told to sign off on whatever is put before them provided, again, that they get something in return.”