245. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for International Health Issues (Bourne) to President Carter1


  • Report of the World Hunger Working Group

Attached is a summary of the report prepared by the World Hunger Working Group involving 26 agencies which you asked me to chair.

The report analyses the major causes of hunger and malnutrition and identifies the key elements necessary to alleviate the problem. Present United States programs are reviewed and their shortcomings identified.

The report recommends the following:

—A clear concise statement of our overall policy, rather than the inferred policy from our present fragmented programs.2

—Presidential commitment that is unequivocal, and which is communicated clearly to the leaders of food deficient countries so they in turn will give it a similar priority.3

—Increasing production through the development of national food and nutrition plans, enhanced technical assistance, a general focus on the interrelated problem of abject poverty, and reduced consumption through stabilization of population growth.4

—Improved research, generally as recommended in the study by the National Academy of Sciences, with a shift in emphasis towards the problems of the developing world.5

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—Commitment to a system of international food reserves to alleviate starvation during cyclical famines, and to stablize prices during times of shortage.6

—Food aid. Present programs (P.L. 480) need to be revised so that they reach and have the greatest impact on the truly hungry people.7

—Trade and investment policies need to be made more favorable to the LDC’s.8

—Expanded private sector involvement. Ambassador Young has proposed a multinational food corps which the group supports in principle, and which is currently being reviewed by the State Department.9


Summary of the Report of the Interagency World Hunger Working Group10



The President’s memorandum of September 29 established a World Hunger Working Group charged with developing a set of U.S. Government policy options designed to make a significant impact on world hunger.11 We have actively sought the views of key agencies represented on the Working Group, the Congress, international organizations, and more than 150 individuals and institutions in the private sector, including farm, business, labor, religious and philanthropic groups. This summarizes the major findings which we hope can form the basis for a Message to the Congress at the time the President signs [Page 786] the Executive Order establishing the Presidential Commission on World Hunger.12

The Nature and Scope of the World Hunger Program

Hunger persists in the world today despite abundant harvests in the past two years. One person in six suffers from chronic hunger and malnutrition, which directly or indirectly cause nearly twenty million deaths each year. Seven hundred million people are seriously malnourished. Nearly half of them are children. In many countries children under five make up less than one-fifth of the population but account for four-fifths of the deaths. Cyclical famines, such as that which occurred in the Sahel in 1973–74,13 take in addition the lives of millions more. The specific causes of hunger vary from one country to another, as do the potential solutions. However, there are certain underlying contributing factors that exist worldwide.

—The world’s readily arable land is reaching its limits.

—Untapped supplies of fresh water for irrigation are shrinking.

—Food production in developing countries barely keeps pace with population growth, so that most of the increases in food production are absorbed.

—Hunger is intimately linked with poverty, and only in rare instances has hunger been relieved without dealing with the general problems of underdevelopment.

—Pressure on total world food supplies is growing because of increased consumption in affluent nations.

—Distribution problems internationally and within countries are severe. Transportation systems in many developing countries remain rudimentary. Farmers in developed countries with only 30 percent of the world’s population grow 60 percent of the world’s food. Lower income groups cannot afford adequate quantities of food.

—Land tenure patterns and persistent poverty discourage improving productivity in developing nations, by making the use of expensive fertilizers (the cost of which is tied directly to rising energy costs), pesticides and machinery economically inaccessible. At the same time, land in developed countries is reaching the limit at which these agricultural aids can increase production.

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—Agricultural research overemphasizes temperate zone and cash crop agriculture, rather than food cropping needs in tropical zones. Also there appear to be no dramatic technical breakthroughs on the horizon to create another “green revolution”.14

—At least 15 percent of all food produced is lost post-harvest, due to poor storage and vermin.

—Optimistic projections that the seas would become an important new source of protein worldwide have been replaced by fear that we may be reaching the maximal sustainable limits, and overfishing is already starting to occur.

Solving the Problem

The problem can be solved. Reduced to a highly oversimplified form it involves the following elements:

—Although 49 countries are defined as food deficient, the majority of malnourished people in the world are in four countries (Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh). Solutions aimed at these countries will therefore have the greatest impact on the total problem. With the exception of certain parts of Indonesia, where the population may already be expanding beyond the limits the land can support, these countries have the potential to substantially increase production of existing land under cultivation, and to solve their own problem by establishing a stable balance between food production and adequate consumption. An annual increase of 3–4 percent in agricultural production, a comparable 3–4 percent annual increase in the GNP, and most importantly, a stabilization of population growth can help achieve the goal by the end of the century. The critical element is establishing the commitment at the highest level in the governments of these countries. The key to the solution lies in their ability to mobilize the prestige and status of the political, ethnic and tribal power systems down to the lowest level around this issue, placing it ahead of all other priorities. In many countries this will require difficult decisions to redistribute assets.

—While it has received considerable publicity, the Sahel involves a relatively small part of the total problem. Unlike Asia, the primary food source is livestock products from grazing herds that have been devastated by cyclical severe droughts which dried up the grazing land. This has been compounded by a steady destruction of the forests for firewood, leading to the spread of the desert; and the use of animal dung (which should fertilize grazing land) in place of scarce firewood. Starving nomads are migrating to urban centers that are already unable to feed their populations. The solution here, unlike Asia, cannot be ar [Page 788] rived at alone by the countries of the Sahel. A major international effort is necessary and is already underway.15 It involves reducing the devastating impact of the predictable periodic droughts by creating domestic and international food reserves, developing improved food grain production technologies for semi-arid areas, exploring for untapped deep water reserves, and developing surface water supplies, reversing the desertification process and shifting the food base away from a total reliance on grazing animals. As elsewhere, stabilizing population growth is critical.

—In many Latin American countries poverty and malnutrition surround pockets of great abundance. The problem is above all else one of internal distribution, and a need for recognition of social equality of all segments of the population. Racial, social and economic prejudice must be overcome. Overall economic growth and population control are important, but the fundamental solution again requires political will and difficult decisions.

—Increasing food supplies is almost synonymous with increasing the productivity of currently cultivated land in the developing nations. There are, however, a few places where the fertile new land can be brought under cultivation; the tsetse fly belt in Sub-Saharan Africa (assuming the tsetse fly can be eradicated), parts of the interior of Latin America, and most important, the Sudan. FAO estimates one billion hectares of “potentially arable” land. Exploitation of these resources could have dramatic regional effect since the Sudan could become a major breadbasket of Africa.

—Since World War II the United States has become the unchallenged global food supplier. While saving millions from starvation, U.S. policies may well have had the secondary effect of reducing the motivation to make the fundamental internal changes in developing countries that would lead to food self-sufficiency. In the future, food exports from the United States and the other major producers, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Argentina, should be used to deal with acute famine situations, and to stabilize world food prices. In particular, it should be used to reward those countries setting the highest priority on internal changes to increase food production.

—The ability to increase food production is not, as we have often believed in the past, dependent on either massive transfer of expensive technology with heavy energy consumption or highly trained technicians, but more upon appropriate incentives and the ability to develop [Page 789] culturally appropriate, generally village-level technology. There must be more willingness to [not?] wait for paid professionally-trained experts, even though they are important, and more emphasis upon the immediate use of simpler voluntary efforts stressing self-help and a sense of dedication similar to that which allowed the Chinese to overcome their food deficit.

Status of Current U.S. Policies

Our past and current efforts to address the world hunger problem have been marked largely by the lack of a cohesive policy and clear-cut goals. At the World Food Conference in 1974,16 we joined other food donor nations in pledging our support for a number of actions, but we have failed to do our part to provide sufficient leadership. Our problems in the past have arisen largely from our inability to separate our motivations and objectives with regard to world hunger from the domestically inspired need to dispose of large commodity surpluses.

At present our contribution to solving the world hunger problem involves five loosely associated strategies, all of which have been reasonably successful; but which have developed separately over time rather than as part of an overall policy.

Bilateral Development Assistance—Aimed fundamentally at stimulating increased food production as part of overall development. Some earlier problems have been improved by the “New Directions” mandate established in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1973,17 which instructed the Executive Branch to:

—give priority to programs that benefit the poor majority;

—emphasize the needs of small farmers and activities that are labor intensive; and

—help expand access by the poor to local institutions.

Multilateral Institutions—We have supported multilateral institutions working in the areas of agriculture, food and nutrition. These include the FAO, UN Development Program, World Food Program, UNICEF, the World Bank and other international financial institutions, the World Food Council, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

International Food Reserve System—We have supported a system of nationally-held food reserves to stabilize world grain prices and to promote increased world food security.

Food Aid Through P.L. 480—This program has been successful in providing 265 million tons of food, valued at $26 billion, to developing [Page 790] nations since first implemented in 1954. However, battles over administrative control, vulnerability to domestic grain prices rather than responsiveness to world hunger needs, profiteering by the wealthy and influential of developing countries, and use of the program as a tool for unrelated foreign policy objectives have severely compromised its effectiveness in reducing world hunger.

Negotiation of Trade Liberalization at the Multilateral Trade Negotiations in Geneva—Reduction of tariff and non-tariff barriers on products of particular interest to developing countries are being sought in order to help them earn the foreign exchange with which to purchase necessary food imports and promote rapid and balanced growth.

Shortcomings of Present Policies

The President’s recent decisions to double foreign aid over the next five years, and to target our assistance primarily to the poorest people throughout the world represent major steps forward in our ability to improve the effectiveness of the U.S. effort to deal with basic human needs, and particularly world hunger. However, major impediments remain.

—The longstanding and persistent intrusion of domestic agricultural and foreign policy priorities into our decisions regarding world hunger has been an impediment. While this is inevitable to some degree, at present our motivations are not only suspect but our strategy is often counterproductive.

—There has been no effective interagency coordinating mechanism for world hunger policy. There are 26 U.S. agencies involved directly or indirectly in world hunger and food issues. This mirrors the general problem of organizational structure and development assistance that Henry Owen is attempting to redress. The very serious coordination and policy formulation problems within the Executive Branch are reflected by the fact that the Congress has assumed a leadership role in this area, producing the “New Directions” mandate, and more recently, the Humphrey/Case Bill.18

—Some international organizations, especially FAO, have been generally ineffective and poorly administered, severely compromising [Page 791] their ability to bring to bear available resources in a coordinated strategy or capitalize on world concern about hunger. In addition, the Americans that we have assigned to those organizations have not always been of the highest caliber.19

—There has been a failure by the United States and other nations to instill in the leaders of most developing countries the political will to give this problem a sufficiently high priority. This is improving, but remains the single greatest impediment to eradicating world hunger.

—The overall level of commitment of resources by the developed nations has been insufficient to meet the needs of developing countries necessary to produce the rate of change we would like to see in the well-being of the poor. The President’s recent decisions and increased commitments by West Europeans will begin to remedy this, but more should be done.

Proposed Strategies

Ideally our world hunger policy would be one that, (a) maintained our domestic farm prices at levels high enough to ensure continued expansion of production, (b) kept domestic consumer prices low, (c) enhanced our balance of payments, and (d) met humanitarian objectives in the nations where people are starving. Obviously any real policy must involve hard compromises in some or all of these areas. People in other countries understand the domestic dilemmas we face, and more than any specific commitment, they want from the United States a clear concise statement of our policy on world hunger, an understanding of the role the United States intends to play, and an affirmation of continuous and long-term U.S. support for alleviating the world food problem.

The key themes we should establish are:

• The right to food is the most basic of human rights. The President is committed to providing the leadership to see that the problem is [Page 792] eventually solved. The President invites the leaders of other nations to join in giving this issue the highest priority.

• The President is aware that this must be more than a short-term initiative, and therefore is making a long-term commitment for the United States. There is some problem because of cynicism in the LDCs about our past commitments.

• The key to solving the world hunger problem must be to increase food production in those countries where hunger exists. It is above all their responsibility to deal with their own problem.

• Hunger cannot be separated from underdevelopment, poverty, disease and the need to stabilize population growth.

• The United States will continue to provide food for the world, but will seek to do so in a way that is at a consistent predictable level, based on need and free from past vulnerability to transient political pressures.

• We will seek to use our aid in a way that provides incentives to countries which insure that food reaches those who need it rather than those who can pay for it; which demonstrate the will to make the internal changes necessary to increase agricultural production; and which implement effective programs to promote economic growth.

• We will also seek to use our food aid and contributions to international reserves in a way that will minimize wild fluctuations in international food prices.

• We will work to strengthen and improve the effectiveness of the multilateral organizations in their efforts to coordinate global response to world hunger. We should encourage the involvement of third world countries that already have expertise to share.

Tactical Considerations

In considering ways to improve the effectiveness of the United States’ effort to deal with world hunger, four preliminary issues must be taken into account:

(1) Existing United States programs have been of varying effectiveness and any new initiative should emphasize strengthening and rationalizing existing efforts.

(2) The effectiveness of any future U.S. strategy to deal with world hunger is tied to a resolution of longstanding interagency conflicts, and the overall organization of our development assistance effort. Because any recommendations relating to world hunger may be superseded by recommendations Henry Owen is now working on, and by the President’s response to the Humphrey/Case Bill, we have deliberately omitted any organizational recommendations. We feel strongly, however, that a major statement on world hunger should not be delayed and made hostage to broader reorganization issues.

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(3) An Administration initiative on world hunger must be tied to a major effort to build public support. The Presidential Commission will help to do this, as will Richard Harden’s efforts with the President’s mother and Shirley MacLaine.20 If done skillfully, we can gain spillover effect for the larger foreign aid issue.

(4) Although our recommendations do not address the continuing problem of hunger and malnutrition within the U.S., we feel that a world hunger initiative must be combined with stepped-up efforts to deal with the needs of the malnourished poor in our own nation. This is in part reflected by the President’s commitment to establish a Commission on Domestic and International Hunger and Malnutrition. Nevertheless, any statement on this subject should address the domestic aspects.

Issues and Recommendations

1. Presidential Commitment

Nothing is more important than explicit Presidential leadership and commitment to demonstrate political will and ensure that appropriate priority is given by the agencies to overriding development considerations, and to encourage other nations to support integrated rural development aimed at the small farmer and landless laborer. It is equally important that the President communicate the priority he attaches to this issue personally to national leaders in those countries where hunger exists. They have to believe that their stature in our eyes is tied to their willingness to deal with hunger as a priority issue and transmit the same message to other leaders in their governments.


Make an explicit Presidential commitment to the reduction of hunger, malnutrition and poverty as a major foreign policy initiative of the U.S., and in this way mobilize public support behind this initiative in particular, and development cooperation overall.

2. Food Production and Consumption Strategies

Anticipating a food deficit of between 95 and 108 million tons by 1985, poor countries must significantly increase their current annual 2.7 percent food production rate. The World Food Council meeting in 197721 reaffirmed the 1974 World Food Conference’s target of a 4 percent food production growth rate in the developing world as desirable and achievable.

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Consistent with the Congressional “New Directions” mandate and the President’s own earlier decisions in this area, we should take certain specific actions that demonstrate U.S. Government support for efforts to increase production. The President has already made the commitment to double foreign aid over the next five years. Most of what is recommended here would fall within that planned budgetary increase.


• The U.S. should demonstrate this Administration’s commitment to “New Directions” by publicly stating its support for a set of actions which will assure that the Executive Branch is moving to implement the Congressional development assistance guidelines.

• U.S. World Food Production and Consumption Strategies should emphasize and strengthen the following current elements through bilateral and multilateral efforts by:

—supporting self-help activity at local levels in rural and community development voluntary agencies;

—providing food development experts in food deficient countries;

—pilot testing sustainable food cropping systems which promote rotation and pest control and reduce soil erosion;

—stressing the need to conduct food production programs within the natural resource base of developing countries to prevent loss of soil nutrients, waterlogging and degradation of lands;

—facilitating increased production by small farmers and fishermen;

—providing technical and financial assistance to ensure that existing and future programs include efforts to reduce post-harvest food losses (the FY79 budget would allocate $3 million to FAO’s program on post-harvest loss);

—improving and expanding food distribution systems including transportation, wholesaling and retailing food chains; and

—incorporating efforts in food and agriculture with related policies designed to reduce population pressures and integrate these programs with other development efforts such as health, nutrition and education programs.

• Emphasize and assist in the development of national food and nutrition plans in low-income food-deficient countries to ensure that food production policies and actions are consistent with nutrition objectives. Such support can be made available through AID programming; the cost can be absorbed within planned budget allocations and the President’s decision on foreign aid increases.

• Declare a policy of support for countries undertaking changes in inequitable land tenure patterns. Ask also that existing international institutions examine whether they adequately encourage such changes. This policy should be further elaborated in the U.S. Government state [Page 795] ment for the 1979 FAO Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development.22

3. Research, Training and Technical Cooperation Strategies

Science and technology are essential factors in all aspects of the food system. U.S. Government expenditures for agricultural research have been estimated at about $700 million annually, with an additional $350 million for similar purposes from State governments. Of the $700 million, $120 million is reportedly used for human nutrition research, although recent Congressional scrutiny of that figure reveals that at most, $60 million annually in Federal research funds are actually used for that purpose. Although the private sector spends about as much on research as does the U.S. Government, most of it is market oriented.

The National Academy of Sciences World Food and Nutrition Study on Research reviewed this area comprehensively in a report to the President in June, 1977.23

Among their important findings they reported that less than one percent of global food research is done in the developing world. Much of the research and technology originating in high-income countries has been inappropriate for the social conditions of developing countries. Most agricultural research has been directed towards temperate zone agricultural production, and toward cash crops. There has been insufficient attention to viable nutrition and intervention programs or to local adaptation of existing technology to food production. It is generally agreed that in addition to the capacity to adapt and modify sophisticated technology to their own needs, developing countries also need research on specific common problems that are likely to generate findings which they can usefully share with each other.


• The report to the President of the National Academy of Sciences World Food and Nutrition Study on Research should be used as the basis for establishing a new strategy and clear priorities in research that relate directly to world hunger. Those priorities should include:

—the encouragement of research on tropical rather than temperate zone agriculture;

—the nurturing of indigenous agricultural research capability in developing countries;

—the development of culturally and socially appropriate technology including focus on methods to achieve reduction in post- [Page 796] harvest food loss through improved storage and low cost methods of food preservation and conservation; and

—expansion of U.S. and LDC research into food prices and grain reserve management systems with greater emphasis in general being given to the social and behavioral sciences approach.

• The U.S. should expand food and agriculture research (the NAS report recommends an amount of $120 million) targeted to developing countries needs, bilaterally and through the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research.24 There should also be a reallocation of funds from existing programs to those with greater impact on the hungry portions of the population both domestically and internationally.

• The U.S. Government should prepare for the 1979 UN Science and Technology Conference25 a proposed international set of guidelines and proposed funding for research and technical collaboration in solving problems of world hunger.

• Since the current responsibility for agricultural research of potential benefit to developing countries is diffused throughout a number of agencies (including USDA, HEW and AID), OMB should accord high priority in its review to this aspect of its reorganization study of food and agriculture policy and recommend to the President by September 1, 1978, a plan to improve coordination of research efforts in this field.

• The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) should head an interagency review of all the major recommendations from the National Academy of Science’s study on food and agricultural research and submit a report accompanying the OMB paper on research organization recommended above. The results of the review should be reflected in the FY80 budget submissions of the appropriate departments and agencies.

4. An International System of Food Reserves

A food authority was discussed at the end of World War II but was not created. More recently, the 1974 World Food Conference called for the establishment of a world food reserve system. Recognizing that food reserves dropped from 90 days’ supply in 1971 to 30 in 1975 [Page 797] (though current foreseeable harvests have now raised this to 45 days), 72 governments, including the United States, have endorsed the FAO-sponsored International Undertaking on World Food Security designed “to avoid acute food shortages in the event of widespread crop failures or natural disasters”.26

Reserves in one form or another have been called for in various international settings: The Seventh Special Session of the UN General Assembly,27 the World Food Conference, the World Food Council, UNCTAD, the Multilateral Trade Negotiations, and the International Wheat Council. In the United States last year the President signed the Food and Agriculture Act of 197728 which has several reserve provisions.

The International Emergency Food reserve would be a U.S. resource to back up our food aid program. Its 2–6 million tons of grain (preferably 6 million) could also become the U.S. component of an eventual world food reserve for the protection of developing countries. Having encouraged the Administration to create such a reserve, Congress is now considering legislation to specifically authorize it. On August 29, 1977, the President made the decision to establish a 6 million ton reserve.29 However, the Administration’s bill, or even the Administration’s position on the Congressional bill, has been held up for more than five months in interagency discussions. As a result, valuable time is being lost and the credibility of the Administration undermined on the Hill and in the private sector.

The domestic market stabilization reserve has also been delayed, largely due to issues regarding the trigger mechanism for the purchase and release of grain. As in the former instance, USDA, along with Congressional, farm, industry and world hunger groups, have supported the creation of such a reserve and have become increasingly uneasy that the process is not proceeding with dispatch. USDA has the authority to provide additional incentives to farmers to reseal their grain under the program. The Secretary of Agriculture’s actions during the week of February 13th, which increased incentives for farmers to participate in this program (increased Federal storage payments), repre [Page 798] sents a welcome step.30 However, in the absence of continuous surveillance and commitment on this matter over the next year, the Congressionally mandated minimum amounts of wheat and feedgrains required to be resealed under this program will be difficult to meet. With the time being propitious for the placing of farmer-held stocks under government loans, with world demand and prices capable of rising in the future, and with world food security still plaguing many developing countries, now is the time to act.

Many reasons are put forth for establishing grain reserves: to provide reasonable price stability for U.S. farmers and consumers; to take care of natural disasters such as the Sahel famine; to provide food security for developing countries that are trying to improve agricultural production; and to reduce price fluctuations in the world market. While all of these purposes may not be fulfilled by a single reserve system, it does not seem necessary to wait for a reconciliation of all of them before taking action on any one of them. Establishing food reserves at both national and international levels, with either centralized or decentralized management, should be included in our overall plan.

The United States now faces large surpluses in major grains and announced a set-aside of up to 20 percent of U.S. acreage planted for wheat and of various other percentages for feed grains. The 35 million metric tons of wheat alone which the United States will carry over into the next crop year represents roughly half of the total world wheat trade, more than one-third of the world’s carryover, and about 9 percent of the world’s consumption. The United States clearly has the capacity and should play a leading role in establishing and maintaining two reserves: a food-security reserve and a reserve for stabilization of the international grain market.


• Establish a U.S. food security reserve of up to six million tons. A draft Administration bill is already under review by the Food and Agriculture Policy Committee. A request by the President for a draft bill on his desk by March 1st will ensure no further delay.

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• Direct USDA to follow up on the action to increase farmer incentives to assure that at least the minimum amounts of grain (wheat and feed) mandated by the Congress are under loan by the required time so that a farmer-held domestic market stabilization reserve will provide a certain amount of much needed world food security for developing countries.

• Pledge 25 percent of the next annual replenishment of the UN emergency gain reserve. The U.S. contribution would be up to 125,000 tons, and could be supplied under the emergency relief provisions of P.L. 480, Title II at no additional cost.

5. Improve the Management of Our Food Aid Program

Many Americans think of world hunger as simply a shortage of enough food, and look to U.S. food aid to provide an immediate and adequate response. Since 1954, when P.L. 480 was enacted, 265 million tons, valued at $26 million, have been made available on grant or concessional terms to various nations. There is little question that there is a continuing need for U.S. food assistance for the foreseeable future.

In recent years, as world hunger has come to be perceived as a chronic condition in the developing world, some have questioned the desirability of continued massive P.L. 480 shipments. Others feel that an expanded P.L. 480 program is needed, but much of this comes from farm groups who want to see a market maintained for agricultural surpluses. Significant legislative changes have been made in the last decade to align P.L. 480 more effectively with the needs of the hungry. Since 1974, U.S. food aid policy has moved in directions recommended at the UN World Food Conference, although still further changes are required if we are to realize progress in reducing hunger and malnutrition and answer the criticism of development advocates that U.S. food aid is no more than a commodity export program.

Major problems remain in ensuring that food aid reaches the most needy, effectively meets emergency needs, and contributes to advancement of LDC development objectives. In order to meet the President’s mandate that our aid reach the poorest people, it will be necessary to streamline the currently cumbersome decision making process used in administering the U.S. food aid program. The President has made a highly important decision in setting a minimum U.S. commitment to contribute 4.47 million tons annually under the new Food Aid Convention.31

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• Direct that the Food and Agricultural Policy Committee recommend administrative reforms to ensure that P.L. 480 better serve development and humanitarian purposes in chronic food-deficit developing countries. These changes should include accelerating the utilization of the Food for Development Authority (Title III),32 provide cash and other incentives to make food aid more developmentally oriented, make Vitamin A and iron (and technical assistance and technology) available to countries for fortification purposes, and streamline the administrative process.

• Direct the Food and Agricultural Policy Committee to recommend legislative changes to improve the development nature of P.L. 480. Simultaneously, it should also consider separate farm export legislation to ensure that market development for U.S. commodities remains a major objective, with assurances that it will be pursued in ways which do not undermine the developmental purposes of P.L. 480.

• Direct the Food and Agricultural Policy Committee to study the following issues and make recommendations to the President by September 1, 1978:

—the costs and benefits of an expanded food aid program in relation to such considerations as U.S. domestic food prices, the need for U.S. acreage set-asides, price, support payments to U.S. farmers, and environmental effects;

—the relative efficiency or complementary nature in the LDCs of U.S. food aid in relation to capital and technical assistance and their comparative availability vis-à-vis food aid; and

—the value and acceptability of various schemes to deal with crop shortfalls in developing countries through food import bill insurance and the establishment of buffer stocks.

6. Pursuing Trade and Investment Policies Favorable to LDC Needs

Those aspects of the problem of hunger and malnutrition discussed in previous sections have led to recommendations for measures to improve LDCs’ lack of foreign exchange and capital to import sufficient food supplies and agricultural production inputs and technology.

The self-reliance of the LDCs depends in the long run on their capacity to earn and to attract the necessary capital resources. Interna [Page 801] tional trade and foreign investment are the primary international economic vehicles for establishing longer run LDC economic capability to deal with their hunger problems. The magnitude of trade with and investments in LDCs far exceeds official development resources and therefore has a significant potential for contributing to world hunger solutions. Trade barriers exist which inhibit food supplies. And similar barriers exist for food imports which act to inhibit distribution of food to the poor. In addition, U.S. foreign investment by multinational corporations often conflicts with developing country needs for access to food for the poor.

The Tokyo Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations is currently involved in negotiations of tariff reduction on agricultural and industrial products, including those from developing countries. It is expected to conclude the latter part of 1978. Despite general agreement on the importance of trade and investment to developing countries and the need to address these issues as part of a world hunger initiative, no clear direction, much less agreement, emerged from the World Hunger Working Group regarding what specific steps should be undertaken by the U.S. Government. Considerable concern, for example, was expressed by several agency representatives about the economic costs to this country of major changes in trade and tariff policies and the domestic political difficulties which trade policies favorable to LDCs would encounter.


• That the President direct that the Food and Agricultural Policy Committee, with other affected agencies, prepare a report for the President by September 1, 1978, which assesses the impact of U.S. trade and investment policies on hunger and malnutrition among the poor in developing countries and recommends appropriate steps to be taken by the U.S.

• In connection with the above recommendation, and following the conclusion of the Tokyo Round, the Office of the Special Trade Representative and other appropriate agencies should review the implications of its outcome for developing countries and recommend additional steps in the area of trade which the U.S. should take to enhance their ability to reduce hunger and malnutrition.

7. Improving and Expanding Private Sector Involvement in Development

One of the distinctive features of American life is the ethos of voluntarism. In addressing emerging social issues, Americans generally look in the first instance to local, civic and private associations and only later to government.

Private organizations provide a major vehicle through which Americans express their active concern for meeting human needs [Page 802] abroad as well as at home. Recent data indicate that Americans now contribute, for overseas relief and development to the private agencies of their choice, as much money each year as the U.S. Government provides in bilateral assistance through AID. Land grant colleges and universities, research institutions, foundations, and other private agencies have also been active in overseas efforts directed toward the needs of hungry people. People-to-people efforts have always had a special appeal to developing countries.

U.S. policy has generally sought in specific but modest ways to draw on the strength of the U.S. private sector in meeting basic human needs overseas. Recent legislation has directed the U.S. Government to facilitate the work of indigenous non-governmental groups in interested LDCs. However, the U.S. Government has been considerably less creative than other industrialized nations in supporting private sector efforts. The U.S. private sector remains one of the distinctive resources which the U.S. can make more fully available to other nations.

The establishment of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger will be an important element in creating a sense of involvement for private voluntary groups, as well as generating publicity and momentum generally.


• The U.S. should establish high-level focal points in USDA, AID, State and HEW for private sector involvement liaison, and enlist the participation of informed private sector representatives in periodic advisory meetings with key departmental and Executive Branch food and development policy decision-making mechanisms (e.g., the Working Group on Food and Agricultural Policy and the P.L. 480 Task Force33 mandated in recent legislation).

• The Agency for International Development should establish an information clearinghouse on all U.S. Government activities concerned with World Hunger. It should publish periodic reports for dissemination to private sector groups interested in this information.

• The U.S. should create a special grant program for U.S. PVO’s to establish voluntary activities in the developing countries which are designed to reduce hunger and malnutrition and related development problems.

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8. Food Corps

Last fall in a speech to the FAO meeting in Rome, Ambassador Young proposed the establishment of an international food corps. There are some problems with such a concept and an interagency committee has been meeting over the last several weeks to iron them out. The group will submit a decision memo to Secretary Vance this week.34 We do not want to preempt this process, but do feel the U.S. should support the general concept of an international corps of rural development volunteers, and make a commitment to provide financial assistance to those nations or multilateral organizations willing to establish indigenous rural development corps programs.

  1. Source: Carter Library, Office of the Staff Secretary, Handwriting File, Presidential File, Box 73, 2/21/78. No classification marking. A stamped notation on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it. A copy of the World Hunger Working Group’s 81-page report, entitled World Hunger in Perspective, is in the Carter Library, Staff Office Files, Special Assistant for Health Issues—Peter Bourne, White House Office Files on World Hunger Group, Box 51, Government Agency Hunger Reports, 1/78–9/23/78.
  2. The President placed check marks at the end of each recommendation with the exception of the third point. The President underlined the words “clear,” “concise,” and “statement.”
  3. The President underlined the words “commitment” and “unequivocal.”
  4. The President wrote “equitable distribution” in the right-hand margin next to this recommendation.
  5. The President underlined the word “research.”
  6. The President underlined the word “reserves.”
  7. The President underlined the word “aid.”
  8. The President underlined the word “trade” and the phrase “investment policies.”
  9. The President underlined the phrase “private sector involvement.” Young delivered the 10th annual McDougall Memorial Lecture—in honor of Australian economist and FAO founder Frank L. McDougall—on November 14, 1977. After presenting a brief historical overview of food policy, Young commented: “One of the mechanisms which has emerged as a creative challenge to the problems of bureaucracy is the utilization of the volunteer. As a concept to help the agriculturally less developed nations of the world, I like the idea of national, regional, and perhaps even international volunteers for food production.” The complete text of Young’s address is printed in Department of State Bulletin, January 1978, pp. 33–36.
  10. No classification marking.
  11. See Document 230. The memorandum is dated September 30.
  12. See Document 251.
  13. The six states of the Sahel (Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, and Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso)) experienced severe drought and famine beginning in 1972. The FAO, through its Office for Sahelian Relief Operations (OSRO), coordinated the global response to the crisis. For documentation on U.S. actions with regard to the famine and African development programs, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, volume E–6, Documents on Africa, 1973–1976, Documents 56, 89, 1314, 20, 36, 4445, 4749.
  14. The Green Revolution relied on the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and improved seed hybrids to produce higher crop yields during the late 1960s and early 1970s.
  15. Reference is to the Plan of Action to Combat Desertification adopted by delegates at the UN Conference on Desertification in Nairobi, Kenya, August 29–September 9, 1977. The UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 32/170 on December 19, 1977, calling for implementation of the Plan of Action in the Sudano-Sahelian region.
  16. See footnote 5, Document 221.
  17. See footnote 10, Document 73.
  18. Humphrey’s International Development Cooperation bill proposed the establishment of a single foreign aid agency charged with administering bilateral and multilateral aid programs. Following Humphrey’s death in January 1978, Senators Case and Sparkman introduced the bill in Congress. Although Humphrey’s bill was not enacted into law, the President subsequently issued Executive Order 12163 on September 29, 1979, establishing the International Development Cooperation Agency (IDCA). See Public Papers: Carter, 1979, Book II, pp. 1792–1800. The IDCA began operations on October 1, 1979. See Graham Hovey, “A Humphrey Legacy: Bill to Streamline Foreign Aid,” The New York Times, January 26, 1978, p. A–3; Congress and the Nation volume V, 1977–1978, pp. 74–75.
  19. In telegram 59649 to Rome, March 8, the Department indicated that Bourne’s report had not been cleared by the individual agencies before submission to the President. With regard to Bourne’s treatment of the FAO in the report to the President, the Department noted: “There was no attempt to substantiate this paragraph and we feel it was not judicious to single out FAO. Had final draft been cleared with departments we would have suggested specific reference to FAO be deleted. Should FODAG be questioned concerning this paragraph, you should indicate we are aware and support DG’s efforts to revitalize FAO. FAO should understand that view expressed in paper does however reflect significant concern among American people (120 organizations reportedly contributed to Working Group effort) that UN programs be carefully conceived, planned and executed. It is important that agencies set quantifiable objectives for projects and show via objective evaluation that those goals being realized.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780105–0675)
  20. See footnote 13, Document 242.
  21. See Document 221.
  22. The FAO World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (WCARRD) was scheduled to take place in Rome July 12–20, 1979.
  23. See Document 212 and footnote 2 thereto.
  24. An initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation and supported by the World Bank, FAO, UNDP, and IFAD, the Consultative Group on International Agriculture Research, at the time of the Carter administration, was a confederation of autonomous research centers and donors who supported the transmission of global agricultural research. The four major research centers included the International Rice Research Institute (Philippines), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (Mexico), the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (Nigeria), and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (Colombia).
  25. See footnote 6, Document 234.
  26. On November 16, 1974, the World Food Conference adopted a Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Malnutrition, which directed member-states to adhere to the objectives, policies, and guidelines of a proposed International Undertaking on World Food Security. The Undertaking required all adherents to adopt various policies to guarantee a minimum safe level of agricultural stocks, primarily cereal grains.
  27. See footnote 4, Document 207.
  28. See footnote 8, Document 229.
  29. See Document 225 and footnote 4 thereto.
  30. Section 1101 of the Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 (P.L. 95–113) amended the Agricultural Act of 1949 to add a grain reserve program. Under this program, farmers would receive loans from the Federal government in exchange for withholding a portion of their crop from the market. In addition, farmers would agree to store wheat and feedgrains in Federally-financed grain storage facilities for at least 3 years or until prices improved, whereupon the grains would be sold or turned over to the USDA as payment in kind. In early February 1978, Bergland had urged the President to approve an increase in the storage fee from $.20 to $.25 a bushel and a request to feed-grain farmers to plant 10 percent fewer acres. (“A Farm Program for All Seasons,” The New York Times, February 1, 1978, p. A–22 and “U.S. Takes Further Steps to Reduce Grain Brought to ’78 Market, Help Boost Prices,” The Wall Street Journal, February 7, 1978, p. 38)
  31. See Document 243.
  32. The International Development and Food Assistance Act of 1977 (P.L. 95–88) revised the Title III provision of P.L. 480 to emphasize food for development. The amended Title III permitted the United States to negotiate agreements with recipient countries for a “specified annual value of agricultural commodities,” deliverable over a 1–5 year period. Recipient nations agreed to institute a variety of reforms designed to improve agricultural production. Proceeds generated from the sales of agricultural commodities financed these reform projects and were applied against the nation’s repayment obligation. (Department of State Bulletin, January 1978, pp. 36–37)
  33. The Food and Agriculture Act of 1977 (P.L. 95–113) directed the Secretary of Agriculture to establish such a task force.
  34. See Document 247.