341. Memorandum From the Special Representative for Economic Summits (Owen) to President Carter 1

SUBJECT

  • Aid Review (C)

An additional last minute fact that you should be aware of in reviewing aid allocations to specific countries: We have just launched an inter-agency exercise to see whether large additional amounts of grain (up to 1 million tons) could be moved quickly as PL–480 shipments [Page 1079]overseas, in light of recent events. Agriculture says that this would help reassure farmers. (C)

I don’t know what recommendations will emerge, since there are some arguments against such a program, but I do know that it would be impossible to move this additional amount of PL–480 grain without very large additional shipments going to India and Bangladesh, as well as other countries. South Asia is where most of the hungry people are. (C)

If we do go forward with additional PL–480 shipments to India and Bangladesh, and if we also cut back programmed AID development assistance to these countries, we will seem to be increasing their food shipments and decreasing aid to help them grow food at the same time. I suppose we could figure out how to answer questions from the media and the Congress as to why we were moving in these seemingly contradictory directions, but it would be hard. (C)

The problem would be less difficult if we made any development aid cuts after the Congressional appropriations reductions later in the year—when the announcement of additional PL–480 (if there is to be one) will have faded from peoples’ minds. (C)

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 25, Foreign Assistance: 1–10/80. Confidential. Sent for information. In an undated note to Brzezinski, under cover of which he sent the memorandum for forwarding to Carter, Owen wrote that he was “hopeful we can come up with large increases in PL 480 for both FY 80 + FY 81, which will help to calm farmers’ fears. But OMB is far from persuaded.” (Ibid.)