MARCH 7, 1956
RED WING, Minn.—It was interesting to read of the decision by the Department of Agriculture and of the agreement to sell a considerable amount of our food surpluses to Indonesia under the new bill which permits such sale for foreign currencies.
This is a good thing and all of us must be pleased. But, nevertheless, I feel we have not yet made a comprehensive study nor have we formulated a program for use of our surpluses to the best advantage both to ourselves and to countries in the world whose diet and economy might be improved by things we have or could grow.
A survey must be made first, however, since we must be careful not to upset the balance of other nations' economies. I think the United Nations Food and Agriculture Specialized Agency already must have gathered a great deal of information on which such a survey could be based.
We have come to look on our surpluses as a burden when they should be looked upon as a great blessing. For they enable us to show that our democratic-type economy, in contrast to the Soviets can achieve not only greater internal prosperity but greater ability to help other nations in need.
This is the kind of demonstration which, I think, is legitimate. And it has real value because it helps other people and may persuade those who differ with us to examine their own practices with the thought of improving upon them. After a study is made, some guidance may be required as to the areas where we should send surpluses.
In this country, I think, we should practice to the best of our ability any soil conservation programs found valuable. We do not want our soil to be worn out. And if a certain amount should be allowed to lie fallow each year, our nation would do well to compensate the farmer for his wise farming practices.
This should mean, however, that in the end we still would have surpluses and still would be producing more food from less land and with less people. This would be because of American inventiveness and ingenuity in the use of machines. We cannot allow ourselves, therefore, to fall down in ingenuity and inventiveness when it comes to a question of distribution. Cooperation with the U.N.'s food and agriculture agency, including planning with it, is essential, I think.
But I have not lost hope in our capacity to use surpluses for the benefit of mankind, especially if we formulate a comprehensive farm plan for our own country in which conservation of our resources plays a big part.
Next, we carefully consider the actual possibilities our farmers have in making a good living off their land. And, finally, we use our surpluses wherever in the world people are hungry. We must make sure, however, that these surpluses are the kind that really will meet the needs of the people in other countries and that they do not create economic crises, for these countries have sufficient problems as it is.