223. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for Health Issues (Bourne) to President Carter 1
- Bergland Memorandum dated August 15, 1977, re Report on International Food and Agriculture
The comments contained in this memo were coordinated with the NSC, DC, OMB, OSTP, CEA, and the Cabinet Secretary.2
I. Summary Analysis
Secretary Bergland’s excellent report is encouraging in that he proposes that the Department of Agriculture become a full collaborator on international food policy governmentwide, and expresses a concern for food policies which address the basic human needs of the poor in the world. The key step to take now is to establish, where possible, specific Administration goals to achieve by 1980 which will dictate the policies to pursue. The flaws in the report are the absence of specifics concerning a procedure to arrive at an Administration position, a temporary coordinating mechanism, and lack of emphasis on particular aspects of the needs of the poor in the developing world. However, this can be resolved through a deliberative forum where the views of primary departments and agencies (State, Agriculture, AID, Treasury, the Peace Corps, etc.) and the private sector (in particular, farmers, businessmen) are taken into consideration in molding Administration food policy.
II. Key Proposals of Importance
—A UN speech by the President. It was felt that the UN speech should be considerably broader than simply a discussion of the world [Page 708]food problem, and indeed broader than basic human needs. It needs to lay out the President’s global approach, particularly focusing on the type of world we envisage in coming decades. In so doing, however, it should communicate clearly the necessity of addressing the world food problem. The view was that an early October speech would be premature and that the President should await development of specific policies first.
—An expanded role for the Department of Agriculture. This newly expanded role should be developed in close collaboration with State, AID, NSC, OMB, and the White House, also with adequate involvement of the private sector as well as Congress.
—U.S.D.A.’s approach to commercial food sales, food reserves, trade, and food aid. However, what is required is the balancing of interests in this area with other interests including ensuring more equitable distribution of food to the poor, the relationship of our present U.S. and foreign agricultural production policies to nutrition (both at home and abroad), and the institutional linkages required to bring about a coordinated policy in these areas.
—Foreign Food Assistance. Provided, however, that the emphasis is on the poor nations.
—Scientific and technical collaboration. Provided, however, that the emphasis is on useful technology in support of the poor producers. Investment in basic agricultural research both here and abroad will be necessary in order to enhance the world’s productive capacity for the intermediate and longer term. This is essential both to provide adequate food supply abroad as well as to keep food costs down domestically.
—International trade arrangements.
III. Specific Negative Attributes of the Report
—The report, though well conceived, was developed in somewhat of a policy vacuum. To the best of our knowledge, many of the principals in and out of government did not officially engage in collaborative consultation with Agriculture in developing the report. This can easily be rectified by convening a steering group made up of the principal agencies, to develop a set of governmentwide recommendations for the President to consider.
—The report lacks a budget impact analysis.
—The report lacks a specific set of measurable goals which identify what it is that all these policy initiatives will accomplish.
—Downplays the conflicting, competing, and overlapping policies now in place among the many agencies (26 agencies involved) and does not suggest how these problems will be worked out beyond consultation. [Page 709]Much more is required and leadership from the Executive Office could ensure that all views were considered in a policy evaluation.
In fact, what appears to be needed is to reform the present patchwork set of authorities and functions and, during the interim, establish a temporary coordinating mechanism which ensures that the various government and private interests are taken into consideration in making and executing policy over the short run and until the reforms are implemented.
—More attention should be given to the “demand” side of hunger, i.e., the ability of people to buy food. One key element in overcoming world hunger is to promote adequate development to enable people to earn enough money to buy the food they need. Simply focusing on increased production might lower food costs, but unless the question of hunger is looked at in an overall developmental context, we will be addressing only the supply side and not the demand side. This argues for avoiding too much of a shift from AID to the Department of Agriculture in dealing with the problem of world hunger.
—There is no objective analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of policy recommendations, and no alternatives suggested. The President needs to know the political and economic implications of a recommendation and the various alternatives available before deciding on a policy. Otherwise, there is no way to judge how one recommendation impacts on overall Administration objectives in this area.
—The report does not address the OMB Food Policy Reorganization Initiative or the AID and Brookings Development Assistance studies.3
IV. Next Steps
A. It is recommended that you send a memorandum to Secretary Bergland commending him for the very welcome, thoughtful, and innovative report. Furthermore, the letter should indicate that plans are to include Secretary Bergland as a principal participant in the international food policy issue. A proposed draft letter to the Secretary of Agriculture is attached.4[Page 710]
B. As you may recall, you requested Peter Bourne, Zbig Brzezinski, Stu Eizenstat and Frank Press to suggest a plan on World Hunger. We have been working on this and within the next two weeks will be submitting for your consideration a memorandum that proposes some initial steps needed to develop a coordinated world food policy.5
- Source: Carter Library, Staff Office Files, Domestic Policy Staff, Eizenstat Files, Box 324, World Hunger . No classification marking. A notation in Carter’s handwriting reads: “Stu, advise. J.” A stamped notation at the top of the page reads: “The President has seen.” An earlier version of the memorandum, prepared by Bourne on August 17; an undated draft response to Bergland; and covering memoranda attached to Bergland’s report, attached below, are ibid.↩
- Comments on Bergland’s proposal are contained in an August 17 memorandum from Cutter to Hutchenson; an August 17 memorandum from Schultze to Carter; an August 17 memorandum from Eizenstat and Daft to the President; and an August 19 memorandum from Hormats to Dodson. All are ibid. In their memorandum to the President, Eizenstat and Daft noted that the proposal “represents an excellent first-cut at framing the Administration’s policy on international food and agriculture. It does a particularly nice job of tying together the several loose ends, including commercial trade policy, food assistance, and research.”↩
- For information regarding the AID/DCC and Brookings studies, see footnotes 8 and 9, Document 216. As part of a larger review of the economic policy and analysis machinery of the Federal government, the President, in an August 25 memorandum to heads of Executive Agencies and Departments, indicated that he had directed OMB’s Reorganization Project Staff to begin a review of the organization and structure of Federal food and nutrition programs. The review would focus on seven areas: food production and marketing; regulatory activities affecting food; food research and education; international activities; commodity procurement and distribution; aquaculture activities; and conservation activities. (Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents August 29, 1977, pp. 1249–50)↩
- A draft undated and unsigned memorandum from the President to Bergland is attached but not printed.↩
- See Document 227.↩
- No classification marking.↩
- See Document 221.↩
- See Document 212.↩