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In July, 1975, top White House economic officials in the Ford Administration receive information that the Soviet Union, in the face of a disappointing grain harvest, might seek to purchase large amounts of wheat and corn from US suppliers. This case is an insider account of the confluence of economic and political considerations which emerge as officials face the decision as to whether to take any action to discourage grain sale to the Soviets, at a time when the Cold War is raging. The case specifically looks at the question of whether the Administration should seek to link grain exports, which have, arguably, a humanitarian dimension and are highly popular among farm state voters, to broader political and diplomatic objectives. Put another way, should food be used as a tool of diplomatic leverage? Officials--including Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Secretary of Labor John Dunlop, and Secretary of Agriculture Earl Butz, as well as members of the Council of Economic Advisors--must consider a range of domestic political matters, as well as the potential effects on food prices of a major grain sale.

Learning Objective:
Based in part on The US-USSR Grain Agreement (Roger Porter, Cambridge University Press, 1984), this case is a snapshot of the information-gathering and decision-making processes at the highest level of the United States government.

Other Details

Case Author:
Roger Porter
Faculty Lead:
Roger Porter
Pages (incl. exhibits):
Europe, United States