Franklin D. Roosevelt

Letter to the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture.

May 18, 1943

In your capacity as chairman of the United States delegation, and as temporary chairman of the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture, will you convey to the delegates assembled my heartfelt regret that I cannot be present in person to welcome them upon this historic occasion. Urgent matters in the prosecution of the war make it impossible for me to attend, and until we have won the unconditional surrender of our enemies the achievement of victory must be pressed above all else.

Nevertheless, I hope that later I shall be able to meet the delegates and express to them personally my profound conviction of the importance of the task on which they are about to embark.

This is the first United Nations conference. Together, we are fighting a common enemy. Together, also, we are working to build a world in which men shall be free to live out their lives in peace, prosperity, and security.

The broad objectives for which we work have been stated in the Atlantic Charter, the Declaration of United Nations, and at the meeting of the 21 American Republics at Rio de Janeiro in January, 1942. It is the purpose of this Conference to consider how best to further these policies in so far as they concern the consumption, production, and distribution of food and other agricultural products in the postwar period.

We know that in the world for which we are fighting and working the four freedoms must be won for all men. We know, too, that each freedom is dependent upon the others; that freedom from fear, for example, cannot be secured without freedom from want. If we are to succeed, each Nation individually, and all Nations collectively, must undertake these responsibilities:

They must take all necessary steps to develop world food production so that it will be adequate to meet the essential nutritional needs of the world population. And they must see to it that no hindrances, whether of international trade, of transportation, or of internal distribution, be allowed to prevent any Nation or group of citizens within a Nation from obtaining the food necessary for health. Society must meet in full its obligation to make available to all its members at least the minimum adequate nutrition. The problems with which this Conference will concern itself are the most fundamental of all human problems-for without food and clothing life itself is impossible.

In this and other United Nations conferences we shall be extending our collaboration from war problems into important new fields. Only by working together can we learn to work together, and work together we must and will.

Hon. Marvin Jones, United Nations Food Conference, Hot Springs, Va.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Letter to the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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