Congress Enacts Anti-Cargo Preference Provision in Highway Bill
On June 29, 2012, the U.S. Congress completed its work on a multi-year transportation authorization known as the “highway bill” which included at the last instant an anti-cargo preference provision. Cargo preference refers to a set of laws and policies whereby the U.S. Government reserves certain of its cargoes for privately owned U.S.-flag commercial vessels. The anti-cargo preference provision reduces the percentage of international food-aid (PL 480) cargoes reserved to such vessels from 75 percent to 50 percent. This reduction reverses a 1985 bipartisan compromise between maritime and agricultural interests where the percentage was increased to 75 percent in exchange for cargo preference not applying to certain U.S. Government agricultural export programs.