275. Memorandum From the White House Chief of Staff(Rumsfeld) to President Ford 1

SUBJECT

  • Increased Food Aid Commitment

In the cable at Tab A, Secretary Butz asks that you authorize an increase of food aid in the amount of 1 million tons over FY 74.2 A formal [Page 959]recommendation on the Butz proposal will be coming to you separately, but I think it important to review the chronology of events on this issue in order to put it in perspective.

Secretary Kissinger had included in early drafts of his speech to the World Food Conference a pledge that the US would increase both the quantity and volume of food aid. The Economic Policy Board, which reviewed the speech on October 31, recommended against a commitment to increase the quantity of food aid and suggested that the language not go beyond your UN commitment to increase "spending" on food aid.

This and other comments on the speech were relayed to Kissinger, who accepted all recommended modifications in the speech except for two issues: the quantity of food aid and the matter of the size of the world food reserve we would recommend. You asked Scowcroft to convene a meeting of the relevant agencies on November 2 to discuss these remaining issues and present recommendations to you. If necessary, you indicated you would convene a meeting on Sunday, November 3, to resolve the issues. At the November 2 meeting, the food reserve issue was resolved, but all agencies (including Agriculture) except State and NSC were firmly opposed to pledging an increase in the quantity of food aid. The results of this meeting were cabled to you and, in response, you told Kissinger that he should "go as far as he can in language and commitment to support the concepts in which we believe, keeping in mind the difficult domestic circumstances we face at this critical moment." Following your guidance, Kissinger modified the speech language to read that "the US will increase its food aid contribution …"

Based on reports of a Butz press conference on November 4 that the US would increase its food aid this year only from 900 million tons to 1 billion, I sent him a cable (Tab B) pointing out that he should adhere closely to the US position as embodied in the Kissinger address.3 Butz cabled back his concurrence.4

In addition to yesterday’s cable requesting a policy change on an issue which had been hammered out after sharp and extensive debate only a week ago, the fact that you had been asked to modify the US position was given to The New York Times, where it appears on the front page of today’s paper.5

  1. Source: Ford Library, President’s Handwriting File, Subject File, Box 21, Foreign Affairs—Foreign Aid (1). Confidential.
  2. Attached but not printed at Tab A is telegram 15523 from Rome, November 8, which reads: "Increasingly critical nature of food situation, especially in South Asia as revealed in talks here, leads US delegation to WFC (Treasury abstaining), strongly supported by Senators Hatfield, Clark and Humphrey to urge that chairman of US delegation be authorized to state that in view of increasingly critical food situation in a number of countries US will ship at least one million more tons of food under its food aid program this year than it did in FY 74, bringing total to minimum of 4.3 million tons. I would also express to conference our strong hope that US action would be followed by other donors of food aid and countries able to help finance food imports on concessional terms."
  3. Attached but not printed at Tab B is White House telegram WH43143 to Rome for Butz, November 5. At the bottom of the memorandum to the President, Rumsfeld wrote: "Tab B is the cable I told you I had sent. D."
  4. Not found.
  5. Rumsfeld wrote at the bottom of the memorandum: "We should discuss this. Don."