The Prime Minister spoke on this subject originally at the Heads of Government's meeting in
Paris in December, 1957.79 It was raised again by Mr.Pearkes at the NATO Defence Ministers' Conference in April, 1958.80 On May 28, 1958, the Canadian representative to the NATO Food
and Agriculture Planning Committee developed the matter further. On July 19, 1958, when the
Estimates of the Department of Trade and Commerce were under review in Parliament, the
Prime Minister made a more extensive statement on the possibility of the Canadian Government
making proposals to the NATO countries with respect to the creation of food stockpiles.
There have been a number of reactions from the NATO countries to the tentative suggestions
that Canada has already made in this respect. Norway has declared itself to be very interested;
Germany and France have been most cautious in their comments. All show that they would
welcome more detail regarding the Canadian plan. It therefore seems desirable for a statement to
be made at the Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee meeting at the middle of October.
This statement presumably should go farther in describing the Canadian proposal than others
offered to date on this subject.
- It is proposed that Canada should suggest a plan in NATO, embracing the following points:
That the objective should be to establish useful wartime emergency stockpiles of food in
individual NATO countries;
That for the meantime the stockpiles consist of a single item, namely wheat flour;
That Canada would provide an agreed amount of wheat flour, suitably packaged, to be laid
down at a Canadian seaport, with all costs up to the acceptance of delivery by the recipient
NATO country to be paid by Canada;
That the receiving NATO country would take title to the flour at the Canadian port and
would transport, store, maintain and ultimately dispose of the flour, with all costs from the point
of delivery in Canada to be borne by the recipient country;
That NATO itself would have no administrative or managerial duties regarding the stockpile
in any individual NATO country. It would be wholly the responsibility of the recipient NATO
country concerned to administer the stock and to control its use;
That the recipient country would undertake that the stockpile would be reserved for wartime
emergency purposes and that as its replacement became necessary, it would be disposed of in a
manner that would interfere with normal commercial transactions in wheat and wheat flour as
little as possible, and would not be used for human consumption;
That Canada and the recipient country in question would agree on details such as: size of the
stockpile, nature of packaging, anticipated storage life, conditions of storage, withdrawal from
storage and ultimate disposal when it is no longer fit for its purpose.
It appears that wheat flour is the most useful food item that Canada could provide for a
wartime reserve in NATO countries and that because of its universal use, its availability, its
keeping qualities, as well as the simplicity of management of this single food item, it would be
well to begin, at least, with wheat flour. In jute sacks with moisture barrier provided, wheat flour
has a sound storage life of about 5 years. In 5-gallon tin cans this storage life is increased to
about 8 years. The cost per pound, laid down at Montreal, is comparable for these two packs,
estimated at $0.648 in the sacks and at $0.669 per pound in 5-gallon tins. The estimated cost in
aluminum containers is several times higher. It is calculated that the cost of a bushel of wheat
processed into flour and packed into 5-gallon tins, delivered at Montreal, runs to approximately
Norway is the one NATO country that to date has shown a fairly positive interest in the
tentative Canadian proposal. On the basis of a provision of a supply to meet total flour
requirements for human consumption in Norway for a month, the cost to Canada would be
approximately $2,200,000 in 5-gallon tin cans. If it could be anticipated that Belgium, Denmark,
Netherlands and Norway, for example, should enter such a plan as recipient NATO countries,
the total cost to Canada of providing a one-month supply for these four countries would total
about $19,000,000. It is not considered that a programme in excess of half this size is likely to be
developed in 1959-60. The cost to Canada of a similar reserve for the United Kingdom would be
It is proposed that the cost of the NATO food stockpile programme along the lines suggested
above should be regarded in budgeting for 1959-60 as in place of an equivalent amount of
mutual aid under the National Defence vote. The nature of the appropriation to provide the funds
should be considered at the time the main estimates are prepared. There would seem to be
advantages in not including this as part of the mutual aid vote itself but as a separate
appropriation specifically earmarked for this purpose.
I recommend81 that the
Canadian representative to the NATO Senior Civil Emergency Planning Committee be authorized to give details of the Canadian proposal as outlined in
paragraph 3 above, subject to a limit at this time of $10,000,000 for the possible cost to Canada
of such a programme in the fiscal year 1959-60.
79 Voir/See Document 254.
80 Voir/See Document 194.
81 Approuvé par le Cabinet
le 3octobre 1958. Cette proposition a été présentée au Haut comité pour l'étude des plans d'urgence dans le domaine civil le 15octobre 1958. En 1960, le Royaume-Uni a acheté 30000tonnes de farine au Canada à des fins de
réserves selon les conditions de l'offre canadienne.
Approved by Cabinet on October 3, 1958. This proposal was presented to the Senior Civil Emergency Planning
Committee on October 15, 1958. In 1960, the United Kingdom acquired 30,000 tons of flour from Canada for
stockpiling purposes under the terms of the Canadian offer.