4. Letter From the Secretary of Agriculture (Benson) to the President1

Dear Mr. President: The apprehension of the Burmese Government in regard to surplus disposal programs of the United States involving agricultural products and particularly rice appears to be unfounded. The United States has not sold any rice this year to Japan under any subsidized arrangement although some rice is included in the Public Law 480 program.

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However, the Japanese Government has not signed the agreement2 as yet and therefore no rice has moved under such authority. Japan has purchased from commercial sources in the United States upwards of 100,000 tons at $160 a ton f.o.b. West Coast ports. Current sales of Burmese rice in world markets have been at about $137 a ton f.o.b. Burmese ports. There is no evidence therefore, in our commercial transactions that there has been any under selling of Burmese rice. Moreover, the sales of United States rice referred to were entirely of a variety that is not produced in Burma.

When negotiations leading to the tentative Public Law 480 program with the Japanese were in progress, it was discussed and agreed to that normal marketings would be undertaken with both Burma and Thailand. This the Japanese have carried out and contracts have been entered into for 1955 with both Thailand and Burma. Actual shipments are going forward from Burma to Japan at the present time amounting to 200,000 tons.

Quite contrary to the reported statements derogatory to the United States, the Burmese Government has since the conclusion of World War II been materially assisted in many ways in meeting her rice problems. It is believed that our domestic rice production is not in direct competition to Burmese supplies in the world market.

Sincerely yours,

E.T. Benson
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 411.90B41/3–2255. Top Secret. Sent to Dulles under a covering memorandum of March 22 from Goodpaster stating that the letter was being referred to him at the President’s request for any comment he might wish to make.
  2. Signed at Tokyo on May 3; for text, see 6 UST 2119.