Agricultural Sales and the Making of Detente: The US-Soviet Grain Deal of 1972


  • David Evans University of North Carolina at Wilmington


Cold War, Detente, Soviet Union, Trade, Agriculture


The U.S.-Soviet 1972 grain deal grew out of the United States’ strategy of détente with the Soviet Union.  The Nixon administration estimated the deal would simultaneously bolster the U.S. economy, provide a new market for surplus grain, promote better relations with Moscow, and encourage Soviet dependence on U.S. agriculture.  However, the grain deal revealed a flaw in the free market trading order of the West.  By September 1972, the Soviets were able to purchase the majority of the U.S. grain reserves at low prices, which resulted in food price increases for the average American consumer in 1973 but not the anticipated Soviet dependency.