“The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart sent producer Miles Kahn and reporter Jessica Williams to MarEx’s corporate offices in Fort Lauderdale to film a segment about the controversy surrounding the Food for Peace program.
The U.S. Merchant Marine and America’s farmers have been a big part of feeding the world’s starving populations since 1954, when the Agricultural Trade Development & Assistance Act (P.L. 480) became law. President Kennedy renamed the program “Food for Peace” in 1961, and it has been known by that name ever since. Since taking office in 2008, the Obama Administration has raided P.L. 480’s funds by $1 billion. Last year the White House Office of Management & Budget, in a backroom deal in the middle of the night, took away another 25 percent of Americans’ participation with no debate and no notice to the industry.
Tony Munoz, Editor-in-Chief of The Maritime Executive, has written a number of editorials on the subject, which created a lot of buzz in the mainstream media including rebuttal editorials in the Washington Post and New York Times. While “The Daily Show” segment “Food vs. Cash” is pure political satire, audiences do get to see tons of bagged food with USAID logos on them being transported by the U.S. Merchant Marine and distributed directly to people in need overseas.
Munoz has been extremely vocal about USAID’s plan to send cash vouchers and not food overseas. And he has been critical of USAID’s lack of overall transparency, which ranks dead last on the International Aid Transparency Initiative signed by the U.S. in 2008.
For the record, USAID’s annual budget is $20 billion. Food for Peace is $1.4 billion, and American participation totals $770 million, of which $95 million is for transportation by U.S. flag lines.