History of Food for Peace (Public Law 480) and Soybeans (1854-2021)

William Shurtleff, Akiko AoyagiISBN: 978-1-948436-59-5

Publication Date: 2021 Nov. 16

Number of References in Bibliography: 399

Earliest Reference: 1954

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Brief Chronology of Food for Peace (Public Law 480).

1954 July 10 – Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954 (Food for Peace) (P.L. 83-480) is signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The law establishes the primary U.S. overseas food assistance program. The program makes U.S. agricultural commodities available through long-term credit at low interest rates and provides food donations. President Eisenhower’s action simultaneously creates the Office of Food for Peace.

"The major objectives of this law are spelled out in its basic policy provisions. They are:

"1 – To expand international trade between the United States and friendly nations.

"2 – To promote the economic stability of American agriculture.

"3 – To make maximum efficient use of surplus agricultural commodities in furtherance of the foreign policy of the United States.

"4 – To facilitate the expansion of foreign trade by providing a means whereby U.S. surplus agricultural commodities in excess of the usual marketings of such commodities may be sold through private trade channels and foreign currencies accepted in payment” (from a speech by Hubert H. Humphrey, Senator from Minnesota, before the U.S. Senate, 29 March 1957).

Three (later 4) distinct programs were undertaken to mitigate world hunger (foreign aid) and solve the problem of U.S. farm surpluses at the same time.

Title I consists of foreign currency sales to friendly countries (foreign countries can buy surplus U.S. grain using their own currencies instead of US dollars).

Title II is outright grants of food in times of emergency or disaster, such as such as earthquakes, floods, crop failures and famine. These donations may be made to any nation whose people are considered friendly to the United States even though their government may not be.

Title III authorizes distribution, at home or abroad of surplus food by private voluntary agencies, such as CARE, UNICEF, and many church-connected agencies. This Title also permits the barter of CCC-owned surpluses for strategic materials from friendly countries. CCC is the Commodity Credit Corporation, created in 1933.

In 1959 a new provision was added to PL 480 – the extension of long-term credit at low interest rates on dollar sales of surplus food and fiber.

Public Law 480, passed in the middle of the cold war, recognizes “that our food may yet do more permanent damage to world communism than our armies” (Fred Marshall, Minnesota congressman, 21 June 1954; St. Cloud Times).

1959 Jan. 29 – The term “Food-for Peace Program” (regardless of hyphenation or capitalization) is first mentioned (Spokane Chronicle {Spokane Washington}, p. 17).

1961 Jan. 20 – John F. Kennedy becomes President of the United States. He is deeply interested in Public Law 480.

1966 – Food for Peace shipments of soy fortified foods begin. The first shipment of such foods, CSM (corn-soy-milk), took place in 1966, when 28,000 metric tons (tonnes) were shipped. The next year 54,000 tonnes were shipped. Shipments increased dramatically during the 1970s.

Concerning Title II – The main program sponsors and distributing agencies, listed alphabetically, are AJJDC (American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee), CARE, CRS (Catholic Relief Service), CWS (Church World Service), LWR (Lutheran World Relief), SAWS (Seventh-day Adventist World Service), UNICEF, UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency), and WRC (World Relief Commission). All of these are Private Voluntary Organizations (PVO/PVOs), registered with USAID.

The following foods containing soy protein were distributed: Soy fortified sorghum grits (SFSG), CSB (corn soya blend), CSM (corn soya mix), WSB (wheat soya blend), and small amounts of soya flour (USDA. 1978. The annual report on activities carried out under Public Law 480, 83d Congress, as amended, during the period October 1, 1976 through September 30, 1977; See Table 18).

1966 - The Food for Peace Act of 1966 revised the basic structure of the programs and placed the emphasis clearly on the humanitarian goals of the program. The policy statement shifted from surplus disposal to planned production for export to meet world food needs (Celebrating Food for Peace 1954-2004: Bringing Hope to the Hungry).

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