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Announcement of Increase in United States Contribution to Food Aid Convention

March 03, 1978

President Carter has doubled the U.S. food aid commitment to developing nations.

The President has authorized U.S. officials, now in Geneva negotiating a new Food Aid Convention (FAC) agreement, to guarantee that the United States will deliver up to half of a global food target of 10 million metric tons of grains annually. The World Food Conference set the target in 1974.

Under the new U.S. pledge, developing countries are guaranteed a specific quantity of food aid, even in years when supplies are scarce.

Approval of the sharp increase in U.S. food aid guarantees was recommended to the President by Agriculture Secretary Bob Bergland.

The new pledge—almost two-and-onehalf times greater than the existing United States Food Aid Convention commitment which expires on June 30, 1978—will be met under the current level of Public Law 480 shipments. The United States commitment had been 1.89 million tons annually since 1967.

United States negotiators will today pledge 4.47 million tons of grain annually to the Food Aid Convention. If other FAC donor countries collectively contribute more than the minimum American pledge, then the United States will increase its contribution on a matching ton-for-ton basis. The United States will also propose special FAC provisions designed to increase food assistance to meet extraordinary situations in developing countries.

In authorizing the increased U.S. contribution, which will be announced in Geneva today, President Carter said he has taken the step in an effort to solve three major problems affecting food aid programs.

"First, the world level of food aid fails short of the needs of developing countries," the President said. "The international community has agreed that a minimum level of 10 million tons of grain is needed each year. However, this target has not been achieved in recent years. The fight against world hunger through food aid programs cannot be left to the small number of food exporting and traditional donor countries.

"Second, food aid levels have fluctuated without much regard for the needs of developing countries. During 1974, for example, when grain prices were very high and supplies scarce, food aid to developing countries was reduced by 40 percent just when their need was the greatest.

"Third, the Food Aid Convention has not met the problem of additional emergency needs of the poorer countries. When their crops fail, they need more than the minimum tonnage committed to help them meet their basic food requirements."

The Food Aid Convention, first established in 1967, committed signatory nations to providing developing countries with a minimum annual tonnage of grain on a bilateral basis. In the 1967 FAC, 11 member countries pledged 4.26 million tons of wheat, coarse grains, or a cash equivalent, with the U.S. pledging 1.89 million tons. A new Food Aid Convention was negotiated in 1971. Nine countries agreed to contribute 4.226 million tons of wheat and coarse grain. However, the U.S. commitment remained at 1.89 million tons. The 1971 FAC was extended three times.

Note: The White House press release also included a fact sheet on the Food Aid Convention.

Jimmy Carter, Announcement of Increase in United States Contribution to Food Aid Convention Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244621

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