No Choice But to Sell the Russians Grain at the same time as we were mining the Harbor at Haiphong. The war ended in 1976. I heard the news while I was reporting on a hearing before House subcommittee on Oil Seeds and Rice. It came as especially bad news to rice growers.
2014 Food policy update:
February, 2014 with the Secretary of Agriculture and key Democratic players in Congress (Republicans boycotted the ceremony), President Obama signs into law the 2014 five-year farm bill.
USA Today notes: “The five-year bill — approved by Congress this week after years of fierce debate — expands federal crop insurance. It also changes the food stamp program, cutting it by $800 million per year — about 1% — and raising the automatic eligibility requirement.”
Translation, the new farm bill is meaningless when it comes to making food policy. Farmers no longer pay attention to what the Secretary of Agriculture tells them. Fat cats, most significant producers of SUGAR, are getting handouts they do not deserve and in the process defy our plans for International trade agreements.
Sadly, unnecessary handouts are traditional. They do not affect food policy; they just cost the government too much.
As for social policy, which perversely is really what the Department of Agriculture’s budget is really about, the poor are being hurt by cuts in food stamps and low-income pregnant women continue to be at high risk for infant mortality.
The fact that the Secretary of Agriculture is the official in the federal government with the highest budget targeted to reduce infant mortality is alarming. The high infant mortality rate is indicative of the Secretary of Agriculture’s failure in this regard. The fact that the Secretary of Agriculture should have any role at all in the campaign to reduce infant mortality is indicative of the bizarre nature of farm bills such as Obama just signed.
In 1975, I was writing a book for Marty Peretz. Martz Peretz was in the process of creating an important journalistic empire at The New Republic. Never cautious about anything, Marty was forced into a legal contract where caution was presumably and certainly legally required.
To understand the situation, it is required to have an understanding of The New Republic's role in the 20th Century as the jewel of American journalism. If you are not familiar with Walter Lippman, more New Republic praise is required.
Once Is Not Enough
by Joel Solkoff
While Americans mined the entrance to Haiphong harbor and bombed railroad lines to prevent Soviet goods from entering North Vietnam, the Soviet Union reacted by secretly negotiating the sale of 19 million metric tons of American grain. Later that year , when the deal had become public and was already being called, “The Great Grain Robbery.”
John Rarick, then a member of Congress, said to Earl Butz, who is still the Secretary of Agriculture,
“As a farm boy, I can remember my dear old Hoosier grandmother telling me to watch out for some American businessmen, they will trade with the Devil if they can make a profit.”
Secretary Butz quipped, “If he has dollars.”
Early in his Administration, Richard Nixon had proposed abolishing the Department of Agriculture. Secretary of Agriculture Butz told me he accepted the job on the condition the Department not be abolished.
Last month, memories of 1972 returned as the headlines reported he controversy surrounding the Soviet Union’s mammoth new purchases of American grain. Longshoremen in Houston refused to load the wheat until a federal judge ordered them back to work.
Longshoreman at the Port of Houston
After skiing, President Ford answers questions from reporters. Photo courtesy Colorado Ski and Snowboarding Hall of Fame