M.E.B.A. Thanks Congress for Keeping the Food in U.S. Food Aid

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The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association continues to fight for the protection of U.S. maritime and agricultural jobs.

It is the same group of merchant mariners that are sustained by food aid cargoes that are called upon to deliver the bullets and blankets to the war zone.

The Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association (M.E.B.A.) applauds the courage and determination of those Members of Congress who stood up for American farmers, processers, and transportation workers while protecting a program that has served the needy for decades. On Wednesday June 20, the House of Representatives rejected an amendment to the farm bill that would have outsourced the American jobs associated with growing, processing, and transporting U.S. food aid. The diplomacy and good will extended by helping those who are less fortunate is certainly a valuable expense. However, while some assert that money can be saved by sending cash overseas, the M.E.B.A. believes the U.S. should instead be proud that hardworking American citizens are employed in every step of the process.

The M.E.B.A. represents many of the hardworking mariners who are responsible for the delivery of international food aid. “We take great pride in making sure that the bags of U.S. grain, stamped with the American flag and the words ‘A gift from the people of the United States’, reaches the people who need it,” said Mike Jewell, M.E.B.A. President.

The importance of this program to the U.S. Merchant Marine and the country’s military readiness cannot be overstated. Maintaining a pool of highly qualified, highly skilled mariners who are ready, willing, and able to serve the needs of the U.S. military should be paramount. President Jewell explained, “It is the same group of merchant mariners that are sustained by food aid cargoes that are called upon to deliver the bullets and blankets to the war zone. In fact, the U.S. Merchant Marine has delivered over 90 percent of the military cargoes to Iraq and Afghanistan – a capability that would cost the federal government $20 billion to replicate.”

Although the fight is clearly not over, the M.E.B.A. is grateful for the legislators who chose to protect U.S. jobs. There are certainly changes in the program that would promote efficiency, and the M.E.B.A. is happy to explore those options, but stripping away the jobs of hardworking Americans is not the answer.

About the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association
The M.E.B.A., America’s oldest maritime labor union, supplies U.S. Coast Guard-licensed deck and engineering officers in both the U.S. domestic and international trades. The Union was established in 1875. Its members serve aboard containerships, tankers, tugs and barges, research vessels and ferries. In wartime, M.E.B.A. members have sailed in virtually unarmed merchant ships delivering critical defense cargo despite attacks from enemy aircraft, submarines and warships. In times of peace, our members still face dangers such as piracy on the high seas in order to serve their country.

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Matt Dwyer
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