Courtesy Reuters

Agricultural Surpluses in the Postwar World

THE eight-point statement signed at sea by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill formalized, among other things, the conviction that if this war is to lead to a sounder relationship between the nations of the earth, then international trade must be so regulated as to minimize destructive economic rivalries. Their statement also suggested that it is not too early to begin planning now for the peace to come. And, in fact, both governments are beginning to plan.

The objective, of course, must be to find the way to make more of the world's goods available to more of the world's people. Any system of international relations which did not foster a constantly rising standard of living would be sterile and doomed to failure. Paradoxically enough, however, along with problems of deficiency must be considered problems of surpluses, and especially of surpluses in agricultural products. In the past, these have played a leading rôle in sustaining economic rivalry between nations and in depressing living standards in the exporting countries.

Almost every product is at some time or other in surplus supply. Most such surpluses are of a temporary, or even seasonal, character. At the present time many are the result of war blockade and lack of shipping. But there are certain crops of first importance in world trade which may be considered chronically in surplus, which have become a regular economic problem in the producing countries. The most important of these are wheat, cotton, sugar and coffee.

As the United States is normally a major exporter of wheat and cotton an important decision is involved. We have made it one of our national policies to raise and sustain the incomes of our farmers, and to assure them against falling prices. As a result, our own domestic prices have risen well above world prices. This makes it difficult or impossible for our farm products to compete in the export market. We must therefore decide whether we wish to withdraw from foreign markets

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