Reversal of Farm Policy

April 6, 1966

Report Outline
American Bounty Vs. World Famine Threat
American Farm Policy in Peace and War
Limits on Food Output Here and Abroad
Special Focus

American Bounty Vs. World Famine Threat

Famine Danger in Asia, Africa, Latin America

Fast-approaching famine conditions in many parts of the world portend sweeping changes in American farm policy. For three decades, the country's agricultural programs have sought to hold down production of food and fiber lest unmanageable surpluses accumulate. The surpluses piled up anyway, at considerable cost to the American taxpayer. Lately, however, reserves of such staple foodstuffs as wheat and rice have been dwindling rapidly; grain shipments to India alone aggregate 20,000 tons a day. As a result, Washington is being urged from every quarter to unleash the seemingly limitless bounty of American soil.

President Johnson underscored the urgency of the hunger problem when he asked Congress, March 30, to approve $1 billion in emergency aid to India in calendar 1966. The assistance package, to be paid for in rupees, would include 3.5 million tons of food grains, 200,000 tons of corn, 4 million tons of tobacco and 700,000 bales of cotton. In addition, India would receive free of charge 125 million pounds of milk powder and 150 million pounds of vegetable oils. The aid proposed by the President would supplement the 6.5 million tons of food grains previously scheduled for shipment to India during the current fiscal year. The House Agriculture Committee endorsed the proposal on March 31; unanimous approval by the full House followed on April 4.

Emergency food assistance, however great, cannot indefinitely postpone famine in India and other hungry countries. Although world food production was 1½ per cent larger in 1965 than in 1964, world population increased by 2 per cent. These figures understate the gravity of the situation, for production increases were the least and population increases greatest in the food-deficit areas of Asia, Africa and Latin America. Raymond Ewell, a consultant to the Agency for International Development, told a Senate subcommittee last Feb. 9 that “If these trends continue for the next 10 to 15 years, mass starvation will inevitably result.” Ewell added: “There have been many famines in history involving millions of people, but none involving hundreds of millions of people. …It is hard for us sitting in rich, comfortable, overfed America to realize that the greatest disaster in the history of the world is just around the corner.”

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Farm Policy
Nov. 02, 2018  Organic Farming Boom
May 01, 2012  Farm Subsidies
Dec. 02, 1994  Farm Policy
Aug. 05, 1994  Genetically Engineered Foods
Mar. 25, 1983  Farm Policy's New Course
Oct. 28, 1977  Farm Policy and Food Needs
Apr. 06, 1966  Reversal of Farm Policy
May 02, 1962  Milk Surpluses
Dec. 07, 1949  Brannan Plan
May 01, 1939  Agriculture Under the Trade Agreements
Sep. 20, 1937  Farm Legislation and the Ever-Normal Granary
Nov. 05, 1935  Potato Control Under the A.A.A.
Apr. 25, 1934  Stabilization of the Dairy Industry
Jan. 24, 1930  The Federal Farm Board
Sep. 24, 1928  Wheat Pools in Canada and the United States
Feb. 10, 1927  The McNary-Haugen Bill
Dec. 10, 1924  The President's Agricultural Conference
Farm Produce and Commodities
Humanitarian Assistance