265. Memorandum of Conversation1

PARTICIPANTS

  • President Ford
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Secretary of State and Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs
  • Major General Brent Scowcroft, Deputy Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to food aid.]

Kissinger: We are having a meeting on food aid.

With the middle program you run the risk that you have the budget without getting the flexibility you need.2

Butz used to be for it, and he is on foreign policy grounds, but OMB has said it would come out of his hide—so he is reluctant. I can’t measure the budget impact, but I think you can’t go to the low option, and you lose as much with the middle option.

President: I want to find out from Butz the impact on the housewife.

Kissinger: I think they agree it won’t, but psychologically it would. We would propose not to announce figures and do it with a quarterly program, and then we can review in the height [light?] of the crop situation. We would tell the recipients quarterly except for really important countries. The Syrians have asked for 500,000 in wheat. That is good—if we can get our hooks into them it would be very good. I would propose telling Egypt and Syria the year amount.

[Page 941]

President: 500,000 for Egypt and 200,000 for Syria—is that the high option or the middle option?

Kissinger: Egypt, probably not Syria for the middle.

President: The key for me is the impact on the housewife. In the original text there was a proposal for a food reserve. That is what Humphrey, McGovern are talking for and Butz is against.

Kissinger: I would drop that. Butz doesn’t oppose reserves, but wants it privately held. I think it is better to hold it for the Food Conference.

President: Let’s concentrate any decision on the size. [Omitted here is discussion unrelated to food aid.]

Kissinger: I will give you a paper soon. Proposing an oil tax to promote conservation, and high food aid, would give us something to cut off.

President: I like the speech theme of relating food and oil prices.3

Kissinger: I would not be specific but just say "increase" and drop out the food reserves.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to food aid.]

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 5. Secret; Nodis. The meeting began at 9:55, concluded at 10:25 a.m., and took place in the Oval Office. (Ibid., President’s Daily Diary) On September 10, Kissinger told the President, "No decision is required now on food aid. The crop report is due next week. Butz supports it, Ash is against and Simon is torn between." President Ford retorted, "He is torn between what is right and trying to save $10 billion. Did you see the McGovern report on food aid in the paper this morning? They are supportive." Kissinger replied, "The opposition will be on financial, not political grounds. Why don’t you look at this and make a decision next week?" Ford then requested a copy of the McGovern report. (Ibid., National Security Adviser, Memoranda of Conversation, Box 5) An undated memorandum from Kissinger to the President on an increase in food aid is ibid., Presidential Subject Files, Box 6, Food (4). In June 1974, Senator McGovern chaired hearings of the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition on global food issues. A report on these hearings was released on September 9. (The New York Times, September 10, 1974, p. 7)
  2. Reference is to the options in Ash’s memorandum to the President attached to Document 264.
  3. The President is referring to his speech before the UN General Assembly, which he delivered the next day. See footnote 3, Document 264.