155. Memorandum From the Assistant Director (Soviet Union and Eastern Europe) of the U.S. Information Agency (Brady) to the Director (Murrow)1


  • Selling Wheat to the USSR

As the press is fully informing us, the Russians are buying wheat. They will apparently get it where they can. Their purchases may or may not include us, depending upon whether we make up our minds to sell and how soon.

Without going into ramifications of the problem which are not of our direct responsibility, and strictly from the psychological viewpoint, IAS believes it would be in the interest of our foreign policy objectives to sell wheat, and other farm commodities, to the USSR and the Communist states of Eastern Europe in return for hard cash.2

Here are the points in our reasoning:

Selling wheat to the Soviet Union is consonant with our policy to encourage in that country an improvement in a peaceful consumer economy satisfying the desires and aspirations of Soviet citizens for a better daily life.
Such sales would demonstrate that we are sincerely interested in trade of non-strategic and peaceful commodities as another step in the lessening of tensions.
A decision to sell would be tangible indication of humanitarian interest on the part of the American people, considerate of the welfare of the Russian people.
It would bear witn,ess to the productive superiority of U.S. agriculture, demonstrating without any “embroidering” on our part who is outdistancing whom, in spite of Khrushchev’s repeated braggadocio about “catching up and overtaking” us.
It would have a psychological impact on the Soviet people as they found themselves even to this extent dependent upon us, and it would condition them for further economic dependence, of one sort or another, in the future, should matters develop in that direction.
It would encourage Soviet authorities, and the Soviet people under them, to think still more often of positive relations with the U.S., and less often of any possibilities in the direction of Communist China. This might in its own way help their quarrel along a bit. 7. It would improve our surplus agricultural products situation, and along with that our balance of payments situation.

  1. Source: Washington National Records Center, RG 306, USIA Files: FRC 72 A 5121, Field-Soviet Bloc/63. Confidential.
  2. Brady’s thinking was shared by the Department of State and withstood detractors at an NSC meeting on October 1, leading President Kennedy to announce on October 9 the sale of 4 million metric tons of wheat to the Soviet Union. For a summary record of the October 1 meeting, see Foreign Relations, 1961–1963, vol. V, Document 359.