279. Paper Prepared by the Administrator of the Agency for International Development (Parker)1

FOOD AID

I believe there is a confluence of events which are about to impose major public pressures for an increase in food aid. This could put the President in an extremely awkward position.

The President’s decision to leave unspecified the amount of U.S. food aid within a general pledge was predicated upon what were, at the time, logical premises, and to date, accepted as unalterable. I now perceive a significant increase in Congressional and public pressures, and thus feel there is an immediate need to reassess our premises. Specifically, the premises which are open to review are:

  • —Domestic demand levels;
  • —Commercial export demand levels (especially those of other developed countries and socialist economies);
  • —The priorities of the taxpayer to public financing of food aid. To enlarge on the above premises:

Domestic Demand Levels:

  • —Domestic demand must be recognized not as actual needed consumption alone, but also as consumption plus waste;
  • —Though the U.S. is the world’s most efficient producer of food it is also the most inefficient consumer;
  • —Food costs as a percentage of income are considerably lower in developed countries than in less developed countries. (We still spend only 17 percent of our income on food as compared to as much as 90 percent in developing countries. Further, we consume 2,000 pounds of grain per person each year as compared to 400 pounds in developing countries.)

Thus, the obviation of waste can be the margin that may reduce internal demand and make more food available for aid purposes without distorting the market process.

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Commercial Export Demand Levels:

  • —If domestic and export demand pressures are eased through conservation and reduction in waste against a fixed available supply, adverse price reaction to increased allocations for food aid will be less likely to occur.
  • —The WFC indicated a willingness by the oil producing countries to contribute to sharing the food aid responsibility;
  • —There may be a willingness on the part of both traditional donors who are not food exporters, and newly affluent countries to reduce their demand and thereby make available funding for additional food aid.

Taxpayer Priorities:

  • —The U.S. public, as taxpayers, with an anticipated deep and broad concern, is clearly about to attach a much higher priority to the allocation of tax funds for food aid.
  • —The latest manifestation of this is Friday’s call by prominent clergymen in a unique ecumenical and lay movement, (led by Father Hesburgh of Notre Dame, and supported by Cardinal Cook, Rabbi Tannenbaum, and a number of laymen including Averell Harriman) for an immediate two million ton increase in food aid (see attached clipping.)2
  • —This parallels bipartisan efforts in the Senate to meet with the President on the same issue, the spontaneous and unplanned interest in food by members of the Amnesty Board, a Sunday evening NBC "White Paper"3 and strong support from many U.S. private and voluntary groups who attended the World Food Conference. All these efforts reflect a growing groundswell of public opinion in favor of humanitarian food aid increases;
  • —We must capitalize on this leadership to seek reductions in the amount of demand through a reduction in waste.

What Needs To Be Done:

The President will soon be required to respond to a call for increased food aid.

  • —In order that he may act responsibly and responsively, the President should express his belief that the public is capable of reducing [Page 968]waste in order to make available the equivalent of one million tons of additional food aid.
  • —Based upon the belief and the concern expressed by the public, the Congress, and the international community, the President should announce an increase of an additional one million tons of food aid for this year’s allocation;
  • —The increased allocation, supported by the popular American willingness to reduce waste, should be considered an example to other non-food exporting donor nations;
  • —The President should note his dependence on religious and lay leaders as an essential element in promoting public willingness to reduce demand through a reduction in waste, thereby setting a worldwide example for the non-food exporting donor nations to follow;
  • —If such other nations follow the U.S. domestic example, and reduce their demand on available U.S. food supplies, the U.S. will make available another one million tons of food for other aid donors (both traditional and new) to acquire.

Implementation:

  • —Make or issue a Presidential statement calling for reduction of waste both domestically and internationally by the high food demand countries;
  • —In advance of the successful U.S. domestic "War On Waste" effort, an additional one million tons of food aid will be provided. This allocation is dependent upon American public spirit to achieve food savings and live up to our humanitarian ideals;
  • —If other non-food export donor nations follow the U.S. example, a second allocation of one million tons of food aid will be provided;
  • —Direct a prompt increase in food aid shipments and as evidence of this, call for a special additional procurement of Title II food in December;
  • —Call upon all private and voluntary organizations and concerned members of Congress as a response to the compassionate concerns of their constituents, to support these initiatives and in particular, to help wage the War On Waste;
  • —Call for a comprehensive and dynamic follow-up to the World Food Conference. In order to live up to the impressive accomplishments of the WFC, relative to long-term solutions to continuing problems, we must have the full cooperation of the Congress and be unified as Americans in our dedication to the principles of our aid program;
  • —Require a continuing monitoring of food aid requirements.

  1. Source: Ford Library, L. William Seidman Papers, Box 68, Economic Policy Board Subject File, Food. No classification marking. Attached to a handwritten November 24 note from Parker to Seidman that reads: "I’m afraid the President is going to come back from a fine Far Eastern trip + walk into an unsuspected problem—food aid. This is both a substantive + a people-relations problem. If a move, either before the pressure or planned-tobe-after the pressure is not made, I fear the President could be put into an awkward position. I’m putting forth the attached on a personal basis, without clearance from the others involved (including my most direct boss, HAK). I’ve tried to put the whole situation into ’bullet-type’ language. If you need amplification please let me know." President Ford was in Japan November 19–22, Korea November 22–23, and the Soviet Union November 23–24.
  2. Attached but not printed. At a press conference on Friday, November 22, Reverend Theodore M. Hesburgh, Terence J. Cardinal Cooke, and Rabbi Marc H. Tannenbaum called for an additional $800 million in U.S. food aid, some 4 million tons, to be provided over the coming year. Hesburgh, who was President of Notre Dame University, represented the Overseas Development Council, while Tannenbaum represented the American Jewish Committee. (The Washington Post, November 23, 1974, p. A2)
  3. The White Paper was a long documentary series launched by the National Broadcasting Corporation network in 1960.