Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

History of U.S. Food Aid  Use of food aid for diplomacy dates from just after the conclusion of WWI ~Senator Herbert Hoover (later president) used food.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "History of U.S. Food Aid  Use of food aid for diplomacy dates from just after the conclusion of WWI ~Senator Herbert Hoover (later president) used food."— Presentation transcript:


2 History of U.S. Food Aid  Use of food aid for diplomacy dates from just after the conclusion of WWI ~Senator Herbert Hoover (later president) used food relief to support anticommunist forces in Eastern Europe, and offered food aid to the Bolsheviks to force an end to the civil war in Russia on terms that favored the Allies  End of WWII ~ Food aid was channeled through the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration to encourage Chiang Kai-shek’s troops in China ~ Food relief was sent to Italy and France to appease the social unrest that the US feared would strengthen communist parties in those nations  Under the Marshall Plan, US sent food aid to Europe to continue strengthening noncommunist forces

3 Public Law 480 (PL 480)  Passed in 1954 ~ Food aid became a tool of US imperialism  Was intended to primarily to develop future markets for US grain exports and to solve the problem of surpluses by dumping them overseas  The humanitarian intent clause was added much later  In the past 25 years, about $30 billion worth of agricultural commodities have been shipped overseas under this program

4 Title I  Gives counties long-term, low-interest loans that allow them to import US products for resale in their own country ~ this means that the food goes to people who can afford it, not the poor and needy ~Bangladesh: over 90% of food aid since 1974 has been in the form of Title I credits; 90% of it goes to the urban middle class

5 Title II  US government finances food donations to “friendly” countries  Although it does not appear to be of as much political use as Title I, it often acts as “the quiet arm of American diplomacy, living in the shadow between official policy and private charity”

6 Currencies  Until 1971, counties could repay PL 480 loans in the local currency  This allowed the US to accumulate money overseas, which it spent according to its economic and political interests ~embassy costs ~support local militaries for “common defense” ~loaned to US companies for setting up new subsidiaries in PL 480 countries

7 Developing New Food Markets  Goal of PL 480 was to create new markets overseas  US Department of Agriculture worked with grain multinationals to generate a demand for US products by encouraging people to adopt American-style eating habits ~ Western Wheat Growers Association encouraged people throughout Asia to eat wheat-based products instead of traditional locally grown rice  PL 480 loans are often not given to countries unless they agree to expand imports from the US

8 Food Aid Weapon  There was growing resistance to funding the Vietnam War, as well as to supporting repressive dictatorships around the world (the “friendly” countries high on the US foreign policy list)  Few people were aware of the political possibilities of food aid (even in Congress)- easy to win support for a program supposedly designed to get food to needy people  Regardless of the proposed budget, the president is authorized to spend up to $1.9 billon under Title I and $660 million on Title II

9 Chile  Prime example of the role of food aid in US foreign policy  1970: socialist government was elected under the leadership of President Salvador Allende  US saw this as a threat to its political and economic interests, so the government launched an economic blockade against Chile

10 Chile  Chile’s need for food had never been greater ~ redistributive policies of the socialist government gave people more money to spend on food ~ rightwing landowners began sabotaging local food production  Not only did US cut off food aid credit to Chile, it refused a request from Chile to purchase wheat for cash

11 Chile  As soon as the Allende government was overthrown in 1973 (by a military coup backed by the US), Chile was immediately given the largest PL 480 credit extended in Latin America ~ US support of the new military rule  PL 480 generated revenue for the government- when PL 480 credits accounted for 20% of the total wheat consumption in, Chile was the 9 th largest purchaser of US arms  Most could not afford the food ~infant mortality increased 18% during the first year of the new government ~two years later, estimated that a family of five spent 80% of its income on food, and suffered a caloric deficiency of 40%

12 “Food for Peace”  PL 480 was used to channel funds to US allies in Indochina ~ Cambodia and South Vietnam received ¾ of the total US food aid credits in 1974 ~ special provisions were made so these countries could maximize the availability of PL 480 funds for military use  By the closing of the war, the use of food aid for these purposes began backfiring ~Congress took a closer look at PL 480

13 Changes?  Congress passed an amendment to PL 480, which required that 70% of food aid go to countries on the UN’s list of countries “most seriously affected” by food shortages  State Department quickly looked for ways around it ~ argued that it only applied to food, not other commodities shipped under PL 480 like tobacco and cotton ~Secretary of State Kissinger lobbied to add South Vietnam placed on the list (rejected by UN)  Ultimately, the White House increased the PL 480 budget from $ 1 billion to $1.6 billion, thereby complying with the percentage requirements without reducing the absolute levels of aid

14 Human Rights  Since Vietnam War, Washington has been forced to respond to the dissatisfaction with the number of US- supported dictatorships  Result: New refrain in US foreign policy- “human rights”  Supposed to limit the use of food for political reasons, but left many loopholes ~ex) 1975: Congress passed a law that only 25% of PL 480 budget could be used for political reasons- but total budget was increased, allowing more to be spent  Law also says food may not be sent to countries that violate human rights ~ 1977: State Department announced food aid to eleven countries was being suspended for violations of human rights, but seven weeks later all shipments resumed, even though South Korea, Indonesia, and Bangladesh were still classified as having “troublesome” policies in the human rights area

15 New Strategic Priorities  Oil-rich countries Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Syria, were all high on the list of food aid recipients in 1979, and were also receiving over $1.2 billion from the Economic Support Fund (program used to channel “security” assistance to countries particularly important to US “national interest”

16 Conclusion  As long as food aid is left as part of US policy, it will be used to support US economic and political interests  Rarely does US policy even mean feeding hungry people  “It is not a change in the food aid program that is required, but rather a fundamental change in the objectives of US foreign policy

Download ppt "History of U.S. Food Aid  Use of food aid for diplomacy dates from just after the conclusion of WWI ~Senator Herbert Hoover (later president) used food."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google