282. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Ford 1


  • Food for Peace Program for FY 75

In September you considered alternative levels for the full-year FY 1975 food aid program.2 You indicated you would reexamine the issues again in December before making a final decision. A decision this month is needed if we are to be able to ship abroad during this fiscal year the quantities of commodities involved in whatever program level you decide upon.

Roy Ash’s memorandum is a balanced and succinct presentation of the choice before you.3 Competing factors of inflation/fiscal control on the one hand and foreign policy and humanitarian concerns on the other are correctly described. With the exception of Alternative II, the illustrative country allocations accurately reflect our foreign policy priorities. This memorandum elaborates the foreign policy implications and the four alternatives.

The highest foreign policy objectives, namely, the Middle East and Indochina, are met in all four options. Furthermore, Title II (administered largely through the Voluntary Relief agencies), of highly humanitarian content, is unchanged in the four options. From the standpoint of foreign policy, the differences between the various options concern our relations with traditional political allies and the adequacy of our response to the food problem on the Asian subcontinent. It should be noted that all the alternatives have been redesigned to place more emphasis on the Asian subcontinent than seemed necessary in September.

Our commitments to increase the amount spent on food aid and to do everything possible to increase the amount of food aid we provide this year has been kept in mind. But price increases have had the effect of limiting the amount which reasonably could be recommended. Commodity amounts in the high option—Alternative IV—are ten percent [Page 978]less than the high option presented to you in September and on which we have since been tentatively basing our quarterly programming.

  • —Alternative I provides barely credible programs to Chile, India, and Bangladesh, and only token gestures to Korea and Pakistan. Indonesia and a number of smaller countries are eliminated entirely. This alternative will complicate our relations with Korea, Pakistan, Indonesia and the smaller countries. In addition, the meager levels of the programs in India and Bangladesh will not only disappoint those governments, but both domestic and international criticism directed at our apparent intention to give priority to political and security programs over humanitarian needs will intensify.
  • —Alternatives II and II are essentially mid-range options in which the total funding levels are essentially the same but country allocations and commodity mixes differ.
    • • Nearly all of the dollar increase in food aid provided by Alternative II is allocated to the Asian subcontinent. Although still not adequate to the large need there, it does represent a response that will mute some of the more strident criticism. This option does nothing more for the traditional recipients, Korea, Pakistan, and Indonesia; and thus the foreign policy problems which accompany token programs in these countries remain. This alternative requires major substitution of rice—which is much more expensive—for wheat in India and Bangladesh, and thus makes no increase in the total quantity of the India program and little in Bangladesh. India doesn’t want rice. As contrasted with Option III which follows, this alternative gives no more food to the subcontinent, short-changes our traditional allies, and degrades our India program.
    • Alternative III involves little additional budget outlay over the second option. By the addition of some wheat and with some minor cuts on the subcontinent, it does provide credible programs in Korea, Pakistan, and Indonesia; and it thereby avoids the foreign policy problems associated with the previous two alternatives. Although all major foreign policy and humanitarian objectives are met by this alternative, the programs for the Asian subcontinent fall short of the great need there. As with Alternative II, criticism can be expected for what some will see as a still inadequate response to the problem on the Asian subcontinent.
  • Alternative IV meets all foreign policy objectives satisfactorily and provides a laudable and realistic response to the needs of the Asian subcontinent and of many smaller nations whose needs are just as pressing if not so publicized. It also provides minor additional increments for the Middle East and the traditional political recipients. Admittedly there may be some risk of domestic price effects at this program level and USDA probably will need to adjust its planned [Page 979]carryover stocks downward. But we cannot expect to run a major foreign policy program such as PL–480 only as a residual disposal effort after all commercial opportunities have been satisfied. Moreover, if the PL–480 humanitarian and political goals stand on their own as I believe they do, we should be willing to run some price risk. At the levels we are talking about, I believe the risk is small.

After reaching a decision, you may want to advise Secretary Butz that any increase in outlays needed to support the chosen program level will not require corresponding cuts elsewhere in Agriculture’s budget. Without such reassurance, Secretary Butz will be forced to move very slowly to implement your decision, if he can do it at all, and much of the potential favorable impact of your decision could be lost.

This is an important and difficult decision. Any increase of a major foreign policy budget item (and that goes for the mid-range alternatives about as much as for the high option) could generate controversy in light of cuts in domestic programs. Nevertheless, I believe that the foreign policy imperatives and the humanitarian concerns are such that an increase is called for in our PL–480 food-aid program.

I recommend that you approve Alternative IV.4

  1. Source: Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Presidential Subject File, Box 6, Food (4). Confidential. Scowcroft wrote at the top of the memorandum: "Pres. has seen." Attached is a December 9, 1974, memorandum from Kennedy to Kissinger, concurred in by Ellerman, that recommends that Kissinger sign the memorandum to the President, which, Kennedy wrote, "is consistent with the views held by State’s Economic Bureau and AID."
  2. See Document 264.
  3. Not found.
  4. The President did not initial his approval or disapproval. However, a handwritten note attached to the memorandum reads: "Alt II was approved subject to further review." According to Scowcroft in telegram Tohak 4 to Kissinger in Brussels, December 11, "The President went over the PL 480 program and the foreign assistance budget this afternoon [December 10]. On PL 480 for FY’75, the President chose Option 3, which is the next to highest option, at a level of 1.16 billion. The President did not accept as final the country mix suggested in Option 3, however. He asked that alternative mixes be drawn up for his determination at a subsequent date." (Ford Library, National Security Adviser, Trip Briefing Books and Cables for President Ford, Box 7, December 14–16, 1974—Martinique, Tohak, 12/10–13/74)