Food aid shipment departs Washington amid threats to program in Congress

By: - August 17, 2023 4:20 pm

The Liberty Glory departs the Port of Longview with a cargo of grain for the humanitarian Food for Peace program. (Photo courtesy of American Maritime Congress)

A shipment of American-grown wheat departed the Port of Longview for the Middle East this week, the latest delivery from Washington through the nation’s vaunted Food for Peace program.

But those on hand Tuesday to celebrate as the Liberty Glory embarked carrying 28,000 metric tons of grain, said future deliveries are endangered because some members of Congress are seeking to pare or erase funding for the 70-year-old humanitarian aid program.

“Food for Peace is under threat,” William P. Campbell, vice president of operations for Liberty Maritime Corporation, said at an event Tuesday at the port. “There are some out there who want to eliminate the contribution of America’s farmers and mariners to Food for Peace or end the program entirely.”

“World hunger is at its peak as conflict persists and the traditional breadbasket of Ukraine is disrupted,” he continued. “Against this backdrop, America must stand up and fight hunger and once again be the shining beacon of hope for those around the world. Food for Peace is that hope.”

Washington-grown white wheat is loaded onto the Liberty Glory at the Port of Longview. (Photo courtesy of American Maritime Congress)

Republican President Dwight Eisenhower in 1954 signed legislation known as the Food for Peace Act, clearing the way for creation of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s  Food for Peace program. Food deliveries have reached more than 4 billion hungry people since its inception, according to the agency.

Over the last three years, the United States has donated more than 1 million tons of American-grown wheat per year, much of it going to what agency officials describe as “hunger hotspots” in the Middle East and East Africa.

On Tuesday, at the Port of Longview, Campbell was joined by farmers, port workers, millers, mariners, and state and federal policymakers to highlight the program’s enduring importance

Dan McKisson, president of the Washington Area District Council of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said wheat and other American-grown commodities “have saved lives all over the world. This is a tangible symbol of our nation’s generosity.”

Meanwhile, Democratic and Republican members of Washington’s congressional delegation and hundreds of organizations across the country are pushing back on the proposed cuts. A bipartisan bill, known as the American Farmers Feed the World Act, would preserve funding.

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Jerry Cornfield
Jerry Cornfield

Jerry Cornfield joined the Standard after 20 years covering Olympia statehouse news for The Everett Herald. Earlier in his career, he worked for daily and weekly papers in Santa Barbara, California.