Farm Products in World Trade

May 23, 1962

Report Outline
Agriculturla Dilemmas in the West
Variations in Food Supply and Demand
Methods of Utilizing Crop Surpluses
Special Focus

Agriculturla Dilemmas in the West

Mounting farm surpluses in the Industrialized countries of the free world belie the gloomy assertion of Malthus that “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man.” The United States, Canada, Western Europe and Oceania together produce more basic foodstuffs than their combined populations can consume. On the other hand, agricultural output of the Communist countries and of the less developed countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America is generally inadequate. Per capita food consumption in the less developed countries is only about 40 per cent of that in the West. Expanded production and expanded trade in agricultural products could theoretically right the balance between food-surplus and food-deficit regions. It is probable, however, that for a long time to come scarcity and abundance will continue to exist side by side as complementary aspects of a worldwide agricultural problem.

Administration Plan to Curb Crop Surpluses

President Kennedy, in a special message to Congress last Jan. 81, advanced proposals to pare down American surpluses of food and fiber and at the same time to make use of this country's agricultural abundance to “advance the cause of peace and freedom throughout the world.” Remarkable progress in farm technology, the President said, had boosted production to the point where it “far outruns the growth of …domestic and foreign demand.” He declared that “In spite of a 65 million increase in population by 1980, our farms will be able to produce all we need with 50 million fewer acres than we have in cropland today.”

The President therefore proposed, in addition to imposition of stringent production controls, removal of a substantial amount of cropland from cultivation. Under a provision of the administration-backed bill introduced on Feb. 1 by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Harold D. Cooley (D N.C.), land taken out of production might be converted into pastures, woodlots or recreation areas through agreements with the Secretary of Agriculture. The objective would be sharp curtailment of production, permitting disposal of much of the existing agricultural surplus. Once that goal was achieved, farm output would be allowed to “increase at a rate equal to the growth in demand.”

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