MARCH 2, 1959
REXBURG, Idaho—I have several letters in my mail about the question of our national food surpluses. People read about the great surpluses piling up in storage in this country and about the efforts made to send this food to foreign markets.
The reaction seems to be two-fold. There is a willingness to share with other people in the world, but also a realization that sometimes, due to private situations which have brought about financial difficulties, there are many people here at home suffering from undernourishment. I quote from a letter which one Michigan correspondent sent to his local newspaper. He writes:
"What is this so-called surplus? I think it is food, butter, beans, rice, flour, fruit, etc. that people in the lower brackets of income cannot afford to purchase.
"Millions of people, the aged, unemployed, those unable to work because of disability, etc., are unable to buy this much-needed surplus.
"Why not release this so-called surplus to more of the American people? They would soon reduce this vast hoard of food that our government has purchased at a cost of billions of our tax dollars and is now paying a million dollars a year for its storage.
"Retired and handicapped people 65 or over living on Social Security checks could be presented with a card that would entitle the bearer to purchase some of this food for about the retail price.
"This would quickly reduce the surplus and help the government to obtain a part of the cost of its expenditure."
I feel quite sure that this could be done now: something like the stamp plan used during the depression might be inaugurated. But this does not mean that we should not make a careful study of what we can do for the world as a whole both by selling and by giving where it is necessary.
It is always said that anything of this kind should not be entered into lightly because it might upset the economies of areas elsewhere in the world. This is true, of course, and we should cooperate with F. A. O. of the United Nations and get some of our best financial to study the problem of distribution
It may well be that we will need to enlist our farmers, who are both intelligent and literate, in a real campaign to change the surpluses that we now grow. We have a great range of climate. We can produce more meat, if needed, by feeding cattle some of our surplus grain. We can process certain things and send them to distant areas of the world.
All of this will require study, ingenuity and determination to be really useful to our fellow men who are hungry in other parts of the world. But it does not in any way prevent us from looking at our own home situation. Wherever surpluses can be used for helping to better the lives of people at home, it certainly should be done.