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From the nation's capital the National Association of educational broadcasters presents Washington report a continuing examination of vital currents and issues which affect the lives of all Americans. You are an ABC Washington reporter is John F. Lewis one of the biggest modern operations in the world today an operation so vast it is a vital instrument of U.S. foreign policy. Is the American Food for Peace program the administrator of that program is a quiet mannered almost shy South Dakotan named George McGovern. He is a former congressman from that state and a former teacher. Mr. McGovern occupies a brightly decorated office in the state and somewhat gloomy Executive Office Building next to the White House. A building which once housed the U.S. State Department. George McGovern took time out to talk with us about his work and about the challenge he thinks is involved in a program Total expenditures which amount to between three and four billion dollars a year. What is the goal.
Yes the Food for Peace program I immediately it is a direct feeding of hungry people with these surplus commodities we do this on a government to government basis. We do it by donating to private voluntary agencies. These agencies are carrying on school lunch programs in some 81 countries. They're feeding people in the villages on a direct basis. There are other ways however in which food can be used to bring about a long term reduction of hunger in the world. We can use to pay the wages of workers who are engaged in rural development and belly development project projects we can use to implement a broad scale economic development projects of the kind that are going forward in India and other countries. If you're a young man or. Government you come from. Congress. And I say How did you get interested in this whole problem
feeding the world's hungry. I think my interest in the problem of people goes back at least to 1944 when I was stationed as a bomber pilot in southern Italy. This was my first experience with Hungary. I saw that many people who did not have enough to eat at that time and I came back to my own home state of South Dakota which is a great agricultural area convention that the production of the American farmer was an asset to this country some people think of it as a headache. I think of it as a precious resource that we ought to be using with imagination to reduce human hunger. In an earlier conversation having you mentioned actually using our services to help feed people can also help them raise their level of productivity. What do you mean by that. I think that basic development problem that
confronts the world today is one of. Rural village development most of the people of the world live in rural areas at least three fourths of all the people of Asia Africa and the Middle East live either on farms or in rural villages and many of them are either unemployed or underemployed. Now to put those people to work building irrigation systems clearing the land planting trees carrying out all kinds of improvements the building of schools dispensaries facilities of that kind will require a great deal of from some outside source. When you put men to work in a developing country they use the resulting wages to buy at least 50 to 60 percent of their wages would be spent on food so that there must be some outside source of food temporarily to take up the increased demand until such
time as they can get their own food production underway. And this is a great opportunity for food for the suggestion made by some of our services might be channeled through the United Nations agriculture. Say some international distribution agency. Just how do you think that would operate and do you think it would be competitive with our best interests. I think the lateral approach for the United Nations approach to the attack on world hunger is is worthwhile. I think it can move along side by side with the United States for peace effort. As a matter of fact last April with the authorization of the president I suggested a food and agriculture conference in Rome that this country would be willing to contribute surplus commodities toward a world food bank. That offer has since been accepted by the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the U.N. and was approved by the United Nations in New York in December. Plans are now being made to EMP M&A so-called World Food Bank through the U.N. system. Over the years some of our programs such as food distribution have been criticized because they don't always get to the people who need them some re-emphasis and policy in the street. Well it is a problem in many of these countries to make certain that our commodities in our food products reach the people for whom they're intended. Their problems of distribution problems of transportation problems of careful supervision on the part of the receiving governments all of these things add to the difficulty of getting food into the hands of hungry people. But none of those problems are insoluble. They're the kind of problems that we saw through inefficient to food distribution in
our own country and they can be solved with proper attention abroad. We're working very hard to overcome these difficulties. Most of their food distribution developing or emerging nations of the world the underdeveloped areas. Some of the underdeveloped areas with those in Africa particularly are getting their standard of living up to a point where they are now competing with us for our agricultural market. Something back to hot summer is there any feeling by you or others in our government that this is good or bad. Well I think we have to recognize that as these countries strengthen their economies they're going to move into competition for commercial markets. But but we want to keep in mind that our best customers for the things that we have to sell are also the countries
that are exploiting the largest quantities of goods for example a candidate with a population of a fraction of the size of Africa. It is a much better customer for the thanks that we have to sell than our republics in Africa yet Canada is also a great competitor of ours on world markets. We can't expect to sell the produce of our farms and factories on a large scale to underdeveloped countries. That's why it's in our long range interest to help them even though it brings them into competition with some respects do you think the current world is hurting a little bit as a result of our market there. Well I'm sure that the communist countries would welcome the kind of food resources that we have here in the United States the lack of food
in Mainland China is slowing down their development efforts. They're being forced to use some of their precious foreign exchange to buy food from the Western countries. They recognize and I'm sure Mr. Cruz recognizes that we have a great asset here in our competition with the Sino-Soviet and the productive genius of the American farmer. Now what I was thinking the competitive factor in these underdeveloped areas where the communists are trying to make cars and they can deliver machinery but they can't deliver a very effective weapon. At robbery and that's very true. I suppose that more people in the developing countries are concerned with where the next meal is going to come from than with any other single problem and while they may have been impressed with the Russian satellite space flight I'm sure they will be even more impressed
with the country that is in a position to deliver food supplies to. You're about to take a trip Governor could you tell us where you're going and what you hope to accomplish on this trip. We're planning to visit selected countries in Asia and in Africa. The major part of our time will be devoted to India and to eastern and central Africa. We have a number of projects underway in those countries I'm anxious to take a look at them to see what some of the problems are and where some possible improvements might be made. And also on this trip we're looking for new opportunities to use our food in a number of the countries that will be investing. Do you foresee a day government when the entire world will be well fed or adequately. Yes I do. I think if we're capable of sending a man to them that we're capable of solving the problem of world hunger with the knowledge that we
have of food production. Now there's no reason why over the long run we can't share that knowledge of that scale with other people to the point where hunger will be erased from the air. Just what is the Food for Peace administrator's operation. How big an operation. We have a very small step in the foot for peace office we operate out of the White House. I'm a special assistant to the president. It is not my responsibility to carry out the field operations of the program. It is the responsibility of this office to coordinate the various agencies in the government particularly the Department of Agriculture and the foreign aid agency to see that their programs move ahead with maximum effectiveness. Our office has the responsibility of providing coordination and supervision for those agencies of the U.S. government that are using food over sea.
You think this is always going to be the set up or would it be more desirable to have all of the distribution activities of our government minders separately. Well this is better. There was a bill introduced in the Congress some time ago under the sponsorship of Senator Humphrey to accomplish that purpose. It does have some merit to it. And as a matter of fact it's under continual consideration in the administration. Thank you. Mr McGovern is not without opposition in this matter. The secretary of agriculture Orville Freeman has recently asserted that he sees little benefit to be derived from any increase in present programs of food distribution overseas says Freeman. Let's help the world help itself. Let's not embark on a world wide food relief effort in the middle of this controversy is President Kennedy who must decide which of his advisors is right. The
president is faced by a further challenge while Secretary Freeman and Mr McGovern appear to disagree only over the extent of our overseas food giveaway programs. They're actually engaged in a rather bitter tug of war here in Washington over the suggestion that Food for Peace be a separate government operation independent of either the agriculture or state departments and reporting directly to the president. Secretary Freeman wants no lessening of his authority. Mr. McGovern and some others in the administration want a lot more say. In fact if they had their way the Agriculture Department will only purchase the food we distribute to the world's hungry. Some separate agency would do all the rest. If the president can resolve this conflict he will be accomplishing a great deal. But until it is resolved the schizm over food and how it's handled overseas is apt to continue widening at the top echelon levels
of our government from Washington this is John F. Lewis reporting. This has been a Washington report a weekly report produced and recorded in the nation's capital. Four stations of the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the Radio Network.
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Washington report
Food for peace
Producing Organization
National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
John F. Lewis interviews Senator George McGovern about the Food For Peace program that he is working on to alleviate hunger in developing countries.
Series Description
A weekly news report produced in Washington, D.C. for stations of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters.
Social Issues
Public Affairs
Developing countries.
Media type
Host: Moyle, Will
Interviewee: McGovern, George S. (George Stanley), 1922-2012
Producing Organization: National Association of Educational Broadcasters
Subject: Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
Subject: Freeman, Orville L.
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 4945 (University of Maryland)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:00?
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