Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2010


Published in Great Plains Research 20.1 (Spring 2010): 151.


Copyright 2010 Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Used by permission.


In 1954 the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act, commonly known as Public Law 480, established a new food aid program designed to eliminate agricultural surpluses and improve farm prices. Although Congress also intended it to expand foreign trade, encourage foreign economic development, and enhance the foreign policy of the United States, Lyndon Johnson used Public Law 480 as a political tool to extend the principles of the Great Society internationally and, most importantly, fight Communist expansion. Rechristened as the Food for Peace program in 1959, Lyndon Johnson later transformed it from a domestic agricultural policy to a foreign policy tool that he used to reward friendly nations who supported American objectives abroad.