851.6131/9–1747: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in France
u.s. urgent

3526. Follows background material on French grain situation.

Great concern being expressed throughout US over bad French harvest. US own grain supply greatly reduced because of poor corn crop. 1947 US production all grain together estimated at 10 percent less than 1946. Despite reduced US supply calendar 1947 shipments cereals this country to continental France expected exceed appreciably shipments during calendar 1946 and 1945. First ten months of 1947 US has already delivered or programed 820,000 long tons of grain and grain products. We tentatively plan shipments for last two months which will bring year’s total to nearly 1,100,000 long tons. This compares with US deliveries to continental France of 860,000 long tons 1946, and 758,000 long tons 1945.

In addition to US grain shipments to continental France, large quantities have gone directly to French North Africa. For three year period, 1945–1947, direct French North Africa deliveries amounted to almost 1,000,000 long tons.

Altogether, US has already since beginning 1945 supplied or programed a total of almost 3,500,000 long tons of grain for France and French North Africa. If tentative plans for last two months of this year are carried out, total will be raised to some 3,740,000 long tons.

US has also been exporting substantial amounts of mixed dairy and poultry feed to France. It will be remembered that before the war France was not dependent on US for wheat and other grains. Less than 30,000 long tons of wheat were imported from US in each of four years 1937–1940. And France’s pre-war wheat flour imports from US were even less than wheat. Same was true of other grain.

US shipments, despite their increased volume, will not alone be adequate to offset the bad French harvest. Therefore, all countries which can make grain available for export ought to join US in its efforts to relieve acute shortage of bread in France this winter.

While harvests in western Europe have been unusually bad this year, in eastern Europe, particularly USSR, they have been good. Cereal Committee International Emergency Food Committee estimated at its Aug meeting in Winnipeg that USSR should have an exportable surplus of 2,000,000 long tons from 1947 crop. Reports from Soviet press indicate estimate is probably conservative. Soviet acreage under cereals was substantially increased this year, and average yield per acre is reported much above both 1945 and 1946. A Soviet paper [Page 753] recently stated that “the outlook for grain yields in principal regions is incomparably better than last year.”

Beginning April last year, with a relatively poor crop, USSR shipped, partially in American ships, some 544,000 metric tons of bread grains to France. This grain was sold to France for dollars at prevailing world price. In view bountiful 1947 harvest, it is felt that USSR can this year greatly increase its shipment of bread grain to France.

Soviet shipments to France last year were effected principally during the months of April, May and June. This was first Soviet shipment after war and none has been made since. Total Soviet deliveries of grain to France during post war period thus amounts to date to approximately 544,000 metric tons. This compares with US deliveries of approximately 3,500,000 long tons (3,557,000 metric tons). 1946 Soviet grain was sold to France for dollars and at prevailing world price.

Estimate of a 2,000,000 ton Soviet surplus was arrived at by IEFC after allowance was made for derationing of bread and substantial increase in per capita consumption of bread in USSR.