Great grain robbery

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The great grain robbery was the July 1972 purchase of 10 million tons of United States grain (mainly wheat and corn) by the Soviet Union at subsidized prices, which resulted in higher grain prices in the United States.[1][2] Grain prices soon reached 125-year highs in Chicago. In a 10-month span, soybeans went from $3.31 to $12.90 a bushel. Food prices around the world rose 50% in 1973. The U.S. government spent $300 million and by unwittingly[according to whom?] subsidizing the Russian purchases, this event helped lead to the U.S. government seeking more information about global agricultural output via infrared satellite intelligence.[3]

Russian wheat deal or Soviet wheat deal[edit]

This event was referred to in U.S. media of the time as "The Russian Wheat Deal" or "The Soviet Wheat Deal".[4][5][6] The term Great Grain Robbery is a pun referring to the "Great Train Robbery". Author Martha Hamilton introduced the term as the title of Chapter VII of her book The Great American Grain Robbery & Other Tales, as part of an allegation that the U.S. government was robbing American taxpayers in order to support grain trading companies.[1] The terms Russian wheat deal and Soviet wheat deal fell into disuse since the sales included corn, barley and oats as well as wheat.


  1. ^ a b Hamilton, Martha M. (1972). The Great American Grain Robbery & Other Stories. Washington, D.C.: Agribusiness Accountability Project. p. 313.
  2. ^ Trager, James (1975). The Great Grain Robbery. New York: Ballantine. p. 233. ISBN 0345241509.
  3. ^ "The 'Great Grain Robbery' of 1972". October 28, 2015. Retrieved July 11, 2016.
  4. ^ "Russian Wheat Deal". 4 December 2009. Retrieved July 26, 2011.
  5. ^ Luttrell, Clifton B. (October 1973), The Russian Wheat Deal - Hindsight vs. Foresight, Reprint No. 81 (PDF), Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, retrieved July 26, 2011
  6. ^ Alexander, Holmes (September 6, 1974). "Who was the real villain in Russian wheat deal?". Rome News-Tribune. Retrieved July 26, 2011.

Further reading[edit]


  • Morgan, Dan (1979). Merchants of Grain. New York: Viking.
  • Trager, James (1973). Amber Waves of Grain. New York: Arthur Fields. p. 243. ISBN 0-525-63010-4.

GAO reports[edit]

News coverage[edit]

Oral histories[edit]