United States grain embargo against the Soviet Union

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The United States grain embargo against the Soviet Union was enacted by Jimmy Carter in January 1980 in response to the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. It remained in effect until Ronald Reagan ended it in 1981 upon taking the office of president. American farmers felt the brunt of the sanctions, while the Soviet Union was not affected.[citation needed] During the presidential election campaign of 1980, Republican nominee Ronald Reagan promised to end the embargo, while the incumbent Democratic nominee, Jimmy Carter, was not willing to do so.[1]

Causes[edit]

The Soviet Union's 1979 invasion of Afghanistan was met by the United States with numerous economic sanctions including the grain embargo. In addition, the United States led a boycott of the 1980 Olympics which were hosted in Moscow.

Effect of Embargo on the Soviet Union[edit]

The effect of the embargo on the Soviet Union was minimal as they were able to receive grain from other sources. These sources included most of South America such as Venezuela and Brazil. These crops were cheaper than the grain the American grain as the labor cost was much cheaper. The Soviet Union still received grain from the United States with regard to the grain agreement in 1975 between the two countries. The agreement said that the United States was required to send 8 million tons of grain to the Soviets.[2] The embargo was a blessing in disguise for the Soviets as they were able to see that they didn’t need the United States’ grain. Instead, they could cultivate their own in Ukraine and import the grain from South America. Even after the embargo was lifted the Soviets still relied on the grain from Ukraine and South America and reduced their interaction with the U.S.[3]

Effect the Embargo had on the United States[edit]

The effects of the embargo on the United States were numerous. The embargo caused the price of grain to plummet resulting in farmers having to burn their crop to make some kind of profit from their harvest. Eventually, the grain ports across the country went out of business and never fully recovered even after the embargo was lifted. It also led to an agricultural credit crisis. The agriculture credit crisis was where the United States, for the first time in its history, was forced to buy grain from another country.[4] The embargo caused the midwest states to turn against President Carter as he was taking away most of their business. The midwest was where the Soviet Union got most of its grain. Selling the grain to the Soviet Union stimulated the economy in the midwest. Another effect the grain embargo had was on the 1981 presidential election. With most of the midwest angry with Jimmy Carter for taking away their business they sided with Ronald Reagan instead. Had the embargo not taken place, most midwest people would have voted for Jimmy Carter as they saw him as one of their own. The reasoning being Jimmy Carter himself was a farmer in Georgia and was able in the previous election to pull from the agricultural vote.[5] In several states farmers part of the farm strike movement circled their tractors around the USDA to protest the USDA enforcing the embargo.[6] The grain embargo also affected the United States in which that it was not able to sell the same amount of grain to the Soviet Union ever again. The reason is that the Soviet Union received more grain from their second highest importer, Argentina, and stuck with their grain as they didn’t want to be affected by another grain embargo enacted by the United States. Economically the U.S. was affected by how the price of grain went from $4.39 per bushel in January 1980 to $4 per bushel in 1981.[7] With the embargo the United States had to find new customers for its grain. The customers were the countries of East Asia, more specifically China and Japan. To this day most of American grain exports go to East Asia.[8]

Key Figures of the 1980 Grain Embargo[edit]

The main figure of the 1980 grain embargo was Jimmy Carter. The grain embargo was his way of using food as a weapon. Carter believed that if he could cut out the Soviets grain imports, then they wouldn’t be able to feed their livestock or people, hoping that the people in the country would lead to unrest against the war in Afghanistan.[9] Another key figure in the grain embargo was the Farm Bureau. At first, they supported the embargo as they saw it as a way for farmers to sell more of their grain to Americans. As a result, grain prices dropped and farmers became angered with the legislation and decided to protest against the embargo. When Jimmy Carter lost their support it was the end for the embargo.[10] A year later, Ronald Reagan took power with the support of the Farm Bureau and ended the embargo. Another key figure of the 1980 Grain Embargo was the farm strike movement. The farm strike movement was a group of farmers who protested the embargo through peaceful means such as the incidents with encircling the USDA headquarters in few states with their tractors. Their actions brought attention to the demands of the farmers for the embargo to be lifted.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Oki, Kazuhisa. U.S. FOOD EXPORT CONTROLS POLICY: THREE CASES FROM 1973 TO 1981. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
  2. ^ Taylor, Marcia Zarley. "Russian Grain Embargo in Retrospect." DTN Progressive Farmer. N.p., 21 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
  3. ^ Luttrell, Clifton B. The Russian Grain Embargo: Dubious Success. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
  4. ^ Taylor, Marcia Zarley. "Russian Grain Embargo in Retrospect." DTN Progressive Farmer. N.p., 21 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
  5. ^ Kneeland, Douglas E. "FARMERS ASK REAGAN TO KEEP VOW TO LIFT GRAIN EMBARGO." The New York Times. The New York Times, 24 Jan. 1981. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
  6. ^ Paarlberg, Robert L. ""Lessons of the Grain Embargo"" N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
  7. ^ Luttrell, Clifton B. The Russian Grain Embargo: Dubious Success. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
  8. ^ Oki, Kazuhisa. U.S. FOOD EXPORT CONTROLS POLICY: THREE CASES FROM 1973 TO 1981. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
  9. ^ Luttrell, Clifton B. The Russian Grain Embargo: Dubious Success. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print.
  10. ^ Taylor, Marcia Zarley. "Russian Grain Embargo in Retrospect." DTN Progressive Farmer. N.p., 21 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.
  11. ^ Paarlberg, Robert L. ""Lessons of the Grain Embargo"" N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016.