397. Memorandum from McGovern to Rusk, November 21
With reference to multilateral food surplus programs and the United Nations system, two fundamental questions have been raised:
1. Should the United States commit itself in the forthcoming U.N. General Assembly to a large program involving several hundred million dollars in surplus commodities to be used for economic development purposes.
2. Should any such program operate through the U.N. Special Fund or primarily through the Food and Agriculture Organization.
After considering these questions, I have reached the conclusion that the United States should not commit itself this year to a multilateral U.N. food distribution effort which goes beyond the offer which I made on behalf of the United States at the FAO Advisory Committee meeting in Rome last April.
That offer, announced by President Kennedy on April twenty-second, would commit the United States to contribute $40 million in commodities toward an initial multilateral fund of $100 million in commodities and cash with the FAO playing the major programming role in cooperation with the United Nations system. This initial effort would be limited largely to famine or other emergency needs with pilot activities in child-feeding and labor-intensive projects.
My conclusion is based on the following factors:
1. It is not clear that the United Nations system would more effectively execute large food programs than is now the case with our bilateral programs.
2. The initial proposal put forth at the April meeting in Rome is admittedly small, but it is large enough for us to test the effectiveness of the multilateral approach.[Facsimile Page 2]
3. We have little indication of real support for a substantial multilateral program on the part of other nations.
4. There is clear evidence that powerful Congressional opposition would develop if we were to use at this time the authority of P.L. 480 for a large commitment of U.S. commodities through the U.N. system. [Typeset Page 1646] Such opposition may develop even to the $40 million offer, but the chances are much better of winning Congressional support for this more modest proposal.
If the United States were to offer a much larger commitment in the General Assembly this year, Congress might amend existing authority to prevent any kind of multilateral action.
Attached is a background summary of the issue prepared in the State Department for an interagency discussion in Under Secretary Ball’s office on October twenty-fifth.
I would appreciate learning as soon as possible your reaction to the above conclusion so that I can discuss the various alternative possibilities with the President.
Director, Food for Peace
- Multilateral food surplus programs and the UN system. Official Use Only. 4 pp. Washington National Records Center, RG 286, AID Administrator Files: FRC 65 A 481, Agriculture, FY 1962.↩