259. Editorial Note
On May 17, 1974, the Council on International Economic Policy Executive Committee considered stockpiling and food aid and discussed studies prepared in response to CIEPSM 30 ("U.S. Policy on National and International Stocks of Agricultural Commodities," undated) and CIEPSM 31 ("Agricultural Programs for LDCs," December 5, 1973). (National Archives, RG 429, Records of the Council on International Economic Policy, 1971–1977, Box 256, Study Memoranda 1971–74, CIEPSM, [CIEP Study Memoranda—Index and Copy]) The committee sent both studies for further work, but decided "In the meantime, without commitment, Ambassador [Edwin] Martin is authorized to proceed with informal consultations, at the World Food Conference Preparatory Committee meeting in June and bilaterally as he deems useful, on the basis of the following four points: 1) The US would be prepared to participate in a more extensive exchange of information and consultation internationally as proposed by Boerma on food stocks, supply and demand and to cooperate in efforts to develop an improved analytical capability in these matters. 2) We would cooperate in developing a policy on food reserves [Page 897]within an international framework of agreed guidelines, and would discuss various techniques for participation in it, not excluding limited government held stocks for food aid or emergency needs, but not implying a return to the large US Government stocks of recent years. 3) We are prepared to consult internationally on future food aid requirements and to make purchases for them early in the crop year, but without multi-year commitments on volumes. 4) We want to examine with other countries better techniques for expanding food production in LDC’s." (Memorandum from President’s Assistant for International Economic Affairs Peter Flanigan to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and others, May 22; ibid., Box 252, Executive Committee Meetings, 1973– 1974, 53567 PMF Calls Meeting of the Executive Committee of CIEP, Friday, May 17, 1974 at 3 p.m. in Roosevelt Room 05/14/74) Minutes of this meeting are ibid. The second preparatory committee meeting of the World Food Conference was held in Geneva June 4–8.
At a May 28 Cabinet meeting, Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz said, "On food aid and stockpiling, a debate is developing. [Senator Hubert] Humphrey and his friends think we should have a large Government food reserve. I disagree. We are out of the food reserve business and I think we should stay out. We carried the world food reserve and everyone got soft—they didn’t have to plan. We need food reserves, but they can be carried by private industry and foreign governments. We have carried the lion’s share of production aid for years, going back to the Marshall Plan." President Richard Nixon replied, "The whole idea that if we feed the world there will be peace is nonsense. But taking an area like the Middle East, if we develop a new relationship with the Arabs, the Middle East is one of the hungriest areas of the world. Food is indispensable in our foreign policy. The Soviet Union is providing arms to the Arabs; we can counter here. If we tried to give arms both to Israel and the Arabs, there would be a hell of a fuss raised. The United States should move away from multilateral to bilateral aid. Keep this in mind at the World Food Conference. We need it for foreign policy. As our military assistance recedes, we need other bilateral aid. The IMF sort of thing is OK, but we need this tool for our foreign policy. This has to be closely held, because it goes against the grain of the altruists." Representative to the United Nations John Scali suggested that "We can count our bilateral aid toward world goals, and we can’t look too selfish," to which the President replied, "OK, but let’s have no illusion that we need to be able to influence governments and what they do. The World Bank does a fine job, but it is not an effective instrument of U.S. foreign policy. Frequently, it has not helped where we wanted and has helped countries where it was not in our interest." (Ibid., Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 1029, Presidential/HAK MemCons, May 8–31, 1974 (1 of 3))