Published January 1981 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Grain Embargo Proves Effective The American grain embargo imposed against the Soviet Union last year for its brutal invasion of Afghanistan has been an effective policy tool for the United States, and should be maintained. The embargo was put into effect by President Carter in January 1980 as one of several American responses to the Soviet attack, which not only threatens world peace, but also endangers U.S. foreign policy interests. It is clear that this ban on agricultural sales has taken its toll on the Soviet Union. President Brezhnev recently admitted that his country faces a severe agricultural crisis over the next five years. Effects of the embargo were heightened this year due to the Soviet Union's own crop losses from bad weather, resulting in large shortages of meat and bread in some major cities. Although American farmers originally feared the loss of a major market for selling their harvests, the trade was shifted to many other countries, particularly China, Taiwan, Japan, and Mexico. In fact, China recently signed a major grain sales agreement with the United States for the next four years. Also, grain prices in the United States today are higher than last year, indicating a lack of surpluses on the American market. Because world grain supplies are expected to be lower than normal this year, removal of the embargo could create excessive demand for grain, pushing its price upward, and worsening inflation. The United States cannot conduct "business as usual" as long as the Soviet Union occupies an independent nation, murdering and brutalizing its citizens. Continuation of the embargo not only demonstrates American condemnation of the Soviet invasion, but it also serves as a warning against further acts of aggression. Curtailment of agricultural exports to the Soviet Union has had a significant and effective impact, and is a critical element of U.S. foreign policy. President Reagan would be well-advised to keep the embargo in force.