268. Memorandum From the Special Representative for Economic Summits (Owen) to President Carter1


  • War on Hunger

Here is an idea for a presidential initiative in the war on hunger that would appeal to several important constituencies, cost no new money, fulfill your promise to the Hunger Commission, and give support to the aid bill and food security reserve bill on their way through the Congress:

You could use the occasion of your signing the new International Food Aid Convention, in March or April, to call in 25–30 religious leaders (as you did in 1978 when you asked them to help us pass the aid bill)2 plus members of the Hunger Commission, in order to:

—tell them of your intention, pursuant to the final recommendations of the Hunger Commission (due at the end of February), to wage a sustained campaign to lift the age-old threat of massive hunger from the world by the year 2000;

—cite the steps we are already taking or supporting to this end: doubling international resources for agriculture research, increasing the multilateral banks’ proportion of lending in this field, using AID to support innovative attacks on food and nutrition problems, increasing PL–480 and its support of agricultural development, and launching the ISTC research program with priority on agriculture;

—call on other rich nations to agree, as proposed by the Director of the World Food Council, to create nationally-held grain reserves dedicated to meeting emergency food needs in poor countries (we intend to create such a reserve, anyway);

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—ask the audience for support of these actions in the war on hunger and urge that the private voluntary agencies represented step up their efforts in that war.

You would speak briefly and leave. Then Tom Ehrlich and others could take over.

Your participation would remind people that even in the midst of the Middle East crisis, you remain interested in solving long-term global problems, such as world hunger.

If you approve this idea, I will submit a list of attendees and proposed alternative dates for your approval. State, IDCA, and Agriculture concur.

Submit alternative dates and proposed list of attendees.

Forget it3

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Subject Chron File, Box 93, Food: 1979–1980. No classification marking. Sent for action. Sent through Wise. A notation on the memorandum reads: “redo.” Owen transmitted a copy of the memorandum to Brzezinski under a February 8 covering memorandum. (Ibid.) Owen sent a February 5 draft of the memorandum to Brzezinski under cover of a February 5 note that indicated that the memorandum was for the President. (Ibid.)
  2. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Carter met with religious leaders at the White House on July 31, 1978, in order to gain their support for the pending foreign assistance legislation (H.R. 12222), introduced by Zablocki that April. (Carter Library, Presidential Materials, President’s Daily Diary) The President later signed the International Development and Food Assistance Act of 1978 (P.L. 95–424; 92 Stat. 937–961) into law on October 6, 1978. For Carter’s statement on signing the bill, see Public Papers: Carter, 1978, Book II, p. 1721.
  3. There is no indication of the President’s decision on either of these options.