Distribution Of Surplus Agricultural Commodities

From the 1920s through the 1980s, America's agricultural problemwas overabundance. Two types of programs evolved to help usesurplus food products. In 1954, Congress passed Public Law 480,called the "Food for Peace" law. U.S. exports of food and fiberhad helped promote the recovery of Europe and Japan, sopolicymakers reasoned that such shipments would be effective inpromoting the economic growth of developing countries.

Farmers saw the Food For Peace program as a way to reduce thenational surplus, which was depressing prices. Economy-mindedcity dwellers saw it as a way to cut the public cost of storingsurplus grain. Finally, humanitarians saw it as a means ofhelping to feed the hungry of the world. Much of the food wasused as an incentive payment in developing countries, whereworkers in local development projects were paid with Americanfoodstuffs.

The success of the United States in food production is viewed bysome as an integral part of the overall world effort to feed itspopulation in the future. For many years American surplus grainhas helped to constitute an important factor in the world foodsupply. Considering the increasing world population, it isreasonable to expect a continuing relationship between Americanagriculture and the rest of the world.

Surplus food has also been used to feed undernourished people inthe United States. One program provides free and reduced-priceschool lunches to children of low-income families, using surplusdairy products and other commodities purchased by the government.In another, the government distributed surplus cheese, butter andnonfat dry milk to the poor during much of the 1980s. A third,the federal Food Stamp program, has grown rapidly since itsintroduction in the mid-1970's. Under this program, a person withlow income is eligible to receive food coupons, which areaccepted by grocery stores as payment for food.