851.5018/9–847: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in France

3594. Dept appreciates gravity French food situation as presented your 3649 Sept 81 and earlier telegrams. Govt agencies here have made and are still making every effort to improve exports, but we cannot offer assurance of shipping sufficient grain to restore and maintain French ration 250 grams this winter. While you are already familiar with nature of difficulties in allocating and procuring grain, following offered as possible help to you in understanding situation here. Deptel 3526 Sept 17 was concerned with public info aspects of French grain situation.

As already indicated Depts 3294 Sept 2 volume US grain exports will be greatly reduced by small size of domestic corn crop. While wheat crop is 6,782,000 tons more than preceding year, corn crop is 21,250,000 tons less. This deficiency in corn alone is greater than total US exports of all food grains for crop year 1946–47. Result may be that total availability for shipment abroad will not exceed 12,000,000 tons all types grain as opposed to 14,500,000 predicted earlier in summer.
Shortage of corn may unfortunately mean excessive increase in use of wheat to feed livestock. Average Aug price corn last year was 1.91 per bu. Average price Aug this year 2.35. Price Sept 17 2.63. Corresponding figures wheat 1.95; 2.31; 2.69. Only Govt procurement agency is Dept Agri which is obliged to purchase competitively in open market with advance notice. Its buying activities therefore tend to raise prices, and procurement for export has recently been somewhat inhibited by reluctance to stimulate price increases further. There is already widespread concern over food prices, and Dodd and Harriman have spoken publicly of need for voluntary meat rationing [Page 755] to conserve grain. Cabinet Food Committee will meet Sept 22 to consider effect on domestic prices of procurement for export, and decision on policy should be made soon. Govt officials will also consider conservation measures, but obviously doubtful whether they are politically feasible, whether voluntary restrictions would be effective, or whether legislative controls could be established in time to avert food crisis in France this winter.
Mentioned above that procurement for export has been inhibited by fear of raising prices. However, while current shipments to all destinations could be larger than they are, they could not be maintained at higher level, or even at present level. Exports at current rate would amount to approximately 7,500,000 tons for period July–Dec 1947. This would leave for export Jan–June 1948 only 4,500,000 tons or more, depending on total availability mentioned Para 1.
US is committed to system of allocation through mechanism of International Emergency Food Council. This means that import requirements of all countries are examined and target allocations established by international action. Export programs of participating countries are then planned to meet allocations with which reps of participating countries have agreed in IEFC. System obviously results in comparatively light allocations to many claimants rather than heavy allocations to a few. While US exerts great influence in IEFC, it does not determine allocations single-handed, and it is bound to give some weight to IEFC allocations in its export programs. This makes it more difficult to concentrate large shipments in one area.
US exports to other areas cannot easily be reduced in favor of France, aside from considerations relating to IEFC. Estimated here that France would need approximately 50,000 additional tons grain each month from US to restore and maintain 250 gram ration, assuming that domestic supplies and current imports would be sufficient to maintain present 200 gram ration. But France is already largest importer of US grain except occupied areas and Italy. To divert 50,000 tons a month from other destinations would necessitate serious reduction of several smaller allocations, or complete elimination of two or three, such as those to countries participating in CEEC, or to areas in South America or Far East. Such allocations are already limited, and there would be political difficulties in cutting them to extent necessary to satisfy needs of France and Italy. Allocations to eastern Eur have already been shipped, and there are no further allocations to that area which could be cancelled (last para urtel 3593 Sept 42). With respect to bizonal area it is accepted here that 3,600,00 tons from [Page 756] US will be required to support ration level of 1550 calories, and that this level must be maintained in order to increase Ruhr coal production. Accordingly Dept has joined with War Dept in requesting Dept of Agri allocate 3,600,000 tons produce weight from US to combined zone during current crop year. Best we can do with allocations to other destinations than France is hold shipments to minimum. For example, we are shipping no grain to UK in Nov, and quantities assigned to several Eur countries in US Nov program may result in early reduction of their rations. Already contemplated in IEFC allocations July–Dec this year that rations many countries would inevitably fall, and US programs from Nov on may produce this effect.

Purpose of foregoing is merely to give you background on inability to meet French requirements adequately. We shall continue doing everything to maintain shipments and to increase them if at all possible. Meanwhile will appreciate further info and suggestions from you.

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