• ITVI.USA
    16,350.840
    -55.350
    -0.3%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.731
    0.025
    0.9%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.660
    -0.160
    -0.7%
  • OTVI.USA
    16,343.200
    -45.660
    -0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.520
    0.380
    12.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.960
    -0.660
    -18.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.610
    0.250
    18.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.340
    -0.130
    -3.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.100
    -0.250
    -10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.860
    -0.220
    -5.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    -2.000
    -1.6%
  • ITVI.USA
    16,350.840
    -55.350
    -0.3%
  • OTLT.USA
    2.731
    0.025
    0.9%
  • OTRI.USA
    21.660
    -0.160
    -0.7%
  • OTVI.USA
    16,343.200
    -45.660
    -0.3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    3.520
    0.380
    12.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.960
    -0.660
    -18.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.610
    0.250
    18.4%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.340
    -0.130
    -3.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    2.100
    -0.250
    -10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.860
    -0.220
    -5.4%
  • WAIT.USA
    126.000
    -2.000
    -1.6%
American ShipperShippingTrade and Compliance

Congress seeks info on MSP discussions

The U.S. Maritime Administration, Foreign Agricultural Service and U.S. Agency for International Development have all been asked to produce documents and information relating to negotiations to change the Maritime Security Program.

   Members of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture are asking the Maritime Administration, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for documents and information relating to negotiations to change the Maritime Security Program (MSP).
   A spokesman for MarAd told American Shipper in May, “There are ongoing interagency discussions seeking to strengthen the viability of the U.S.-flag commercial fleet and improve the efficiency of U.S. international food assistance.”
   And in testimony to the Agriculture Committee on June 24, Thomas H. Staal, an acting assistant administrator at USAID, said his group has had discussions with MarAd and “a variety of stakeholders — the maritime industry, agriculture committee, NGOs, the agriculture commodity providers,” but that there has been “no finalized deal.”
   Sources have told American Shipper there have been talks about raising the stipend that the owners of 60 U.S.-flag ships enrolled in the MSP program receive in return for agreeing to make their vessels available in time of war. Currently, the stipend is $3.1 million per ship and the sources say there have been discussions about raising it to as much as $5 million.
   In letters to Paul “Chip” Jaenichen, Sr., the MarAd administrator, Philip Karsting, administrator of FAS, Alfonso Lenhardt, the acting administrator for USAID, Michael Conaway, R-Tex, the chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture and David Rouzer, R-N.C., chairman of the Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture noted that under the Food for Peace Act, at least half of agricultural commodities funded by U.S. food aid program must be shipped on U.S.-flag commercial vessels to ensure “even in times of peace, commercial vessels stay active.”
    The idea, they said, is “should the need arise for these vessels to transition to the transport of defense materiel such as tanks during a ramp-up of our military activity abroad, the U.S. has a fleet, the U.S. Merchant Marines — to augment the Navy…Food aid programs ensure the fleet will not be scrapped in times of low military conflict globally.”
   U.S. shipping companies that are not part of the MSP program, however, are concerned they could be harmed if increased amount of food aid from the U.S. is provided not in the form of “in kind” food shipped from the U.S., but in the form of cash assistance or food purchased from local and regional good suppliers who are in the same country or closer to the country receiving food aid. At the same time, they would be facing increased competition from the MSP carriers, who have seen the amount of cargo they carry plummet because of the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, carriers who might also see an increase in their MSP stipends.
   In the letters, the House Committee asks for “All documents and communications referring or relating to draft legislation or any other proposal that would amend or charge the MSP or ammounts allocated for USAUD to spend on cash-based assistance.”

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.

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