Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing Bill Extending the Food for Freedom Program

July 29, 1968

Secretary Freeman, Senator Ellender, Senator Jordan, Senator Montoya, Senator Harris, and distinguished Members of the House of Representatives, ladies and gentlemen:

In the 14 years of its existence this program--that has the very formal and long title of Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act--has been a very great influence for progress all over the world.

It has meant life to millions of human beings, particularly in India when the rains failed and when famine set in.

It has meant a great deal of hope for the emerging nations in the developing countries which today represent over half of the world's population.

It has helped to expand our own U.S.. agricultural exports to all parts of the world by some $2 1/2 billion between 1960 and 1967. That has resulted, I believe, in improved income for all the American farmers who have learned to produce this food so effectively and so efficiently.

The crucial development role of the act was given a new direction in 1966 by the Congress.

The Congress extended this measure as a program-added requirement that self-help on the part of the recipient nation was to be a fundamental condition to food aid.

That gave us some extra strength in dealing with the recipient nations.

The wisdom, I think, of that emphasis is evident to all the people who know what is going on.

India, for example, has provided incentives for its farmers. It has doubled its use of improved high yielding seed, and it has almost doubled the availability of fertilizer.

The economic pace in the Philippines and South Korea--two countries in transition from aid to trade--is accelerated with each passing year. The number of examples grows every day.

This law in my judgment represents a further improvement of a great bipartisan program. It has been amended to try to help us improve our balance of payments.

It has been amended to provide more resources for family planning and for education.

It has been amended to permit us wherever practical to encourage the use of local funds for a variety of worthwhile public works projects.

So this morning, we are making sure that this vital tool will continue to work for all men for at least 2 more years.

I am very pleased that the Congress in its wisdom has seen fit to enact this legislation.

I am so happy at this pleasant moment when we have a chance to take the last final step of approving it--that we should have so many of the good and wise leaders of the Congress here to participate in this ceremony which will mean so much to the poor people of the world and a great deal to our own farmers in this country.

Note: The President spoke at 1:14 p.m. in the Fish Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Secretary of Agriculture Orville L. Freeman and Senators Allen J. Ellender of Louisiana, B. Everett Jordan of North Carolina, Joseph M. Montoya of New Mexico, and Fred R. Harris of Oklahoma.

As enacted, the bill (S. 2986) is Public Law 90-436 (82 Stat. 450).

On November 8, 1968, the White House announced that the President had authorized negotiations with India, under the food for freedom agreement, for the sale of agricultural commodities worth $169 million (4 Weekly Comp. Pres. Docs., p. 1577).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing Bill Extending the Food for Freedom Program Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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