The Post's editorial "Soviet Agriculture's Best Friend" [May 30] prompts me to give another view.
Agricultural production in the United States is the envy of the world and is our most powerful tool for peace. However, it is of little value if we do not use it. To use this great asset means that, among other things, we must produce and sell our grain to the Soviet Union.
If a gas pipeline from the Soviet Union to Western Europe provides an advantage to the Soviet Union, then surely a grain "pipeline" from the United States to the Soviet Union provides an advantage to the United States.
Do we not gain when the Soviet Union finds it necessary to use 25 percent of its scarce foreign exchange to buy grain--a renewable resource commodity that we produce in abundance? Are we not aiding the cause of peace when Soviet resources are used to purchase grain instead of guns?
The alternative--not selling grain to the Soviet Union-- would mean that we failed to read the recent lesson in history, which clearly demonstrates that grain embargoes do not work. The Carter grain embargo on Jan. 4, 1980, to protest the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan was a dismal failure: the Soviet Union subsequently imported more grain than it did in any other year in its history. 4 Although our allies agreed to "cooperate" with the Carter grain embargo, the facts are these: Australia tripled its grain exports to the U.S.S.R. in 1980 over 1979; Canada doubled its Soviet grain exports; and the European Common Market, which tripled its exports of total farm products to the Soviet Union in 1980, was charged by its own parliament with undercutting the embargo effort. Argentina, which didn't agree to cooperate with the embargo, nearly quadrupled its 1980 grain exports to the Soviet Union.
Meantime, we may never recover the 70 percent of the U.S.S.R. grain export market that we had prior to the embargo. Competing countries have been clamoring to write agricultural trade agreements with the Soviets and to set the new levels in concrete with long-term commitments.
Not only do our farmers suffer; so does the U.S. economy. The loss of each $1 billion in farm export sales costs the nation 35,000 jobs and another $1.05 billion in related economic activity. We simply gave away those jobs and that money to other grain-exporting countries.
For every bushel of wheat that we can use in this country, we grow two more to sell overseas. What we are exporting we can't use here.
We are the best at producing food, but what we have is an advantage, not a monopoly. If we are not willing to use our advantage and sell grain, someone else will raise it and sell it.
On March 22, President Reagan announced his agricultural export policy, which assures countries around the world that the United States intends to be a reliable supplier of food and fiber. That's a common-sense policy that's best for consumers, taxpayers, farmers and the country--and it's an assurance that we will use our food abundance as a force for peace.
Former secretary of agriculture Clifford Hardin says that, if in 1941 we had been selling to Japan as much agricultural produce as we are today, there would not have been a Pearl Harbor. I agree. Japan today depends on more acres of land in the United States to raise food for Japan than there are crop acres in Japan.
It was food and grain talks that parted the tight Soviet Iron Curtain a decade ago and led to exchange visits by heads of state between the Soviet Union and the United States. Food trade also opened the door to the People's Republic of China. That's the power of food--if you use it.