I HAVE today approved H.R. 8609, a bill "To extend the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954, and for other purposes."
Since 1954, this "PL 480" program has assisted in expanding our exports to higher levels and has helped to develop the economies of recipient countries. Its extension is desirable and I am gratified that this was accomplished without crippling barter amendments and other changes which would seriously have hampered its continued administration in the best interest of the United States and our friends abroad.
The omission from the bill of the Administration's proposals for further strengthening this Food for Peace program prevents the broader use of surplus commodities for food reserves and economic development which would have been desirable. Of more fundamental concern, however, are two new program authorizations in the enacted bill:
The food stamp plan it authorizes carries the implication that more surplus foods would be made available to the needy people of the United States. Actually the bill would not do this. Needy people received Federal surplus foods last year by direct distribution through State and local facilities. If implemented, this authority would simply replace the existing distribution system with a Federally-financed system, further increasing the already disproportionate Federal share of welfare expenses. The food stamp administrative mechanism would be much more complex, and it is extremely doubtful that it would provide any greater benefit to needy people than the present direct method.
The new authorization for 10-year supply contracts with foreign governments implies that our agricultural surpluses will be with us for many years to come. This implication is unfortunate and I can only urge again that the Congress act on Administration proposals to deal with the surplus problem. Any contracts developed pursuant to this authorization will need to be carefully administered to assure their conformity with efforts to solve this problem as well as with our international agreements.