International Grains Council

The International Grains Council (IGC) is an international organization established on March 23, 1949 as the International Wheat Council (IWC) at the initiative of the U.S. government for the purpose of egalitarian distribution of wheat to countries in a state of emergency. It was part of the Point Four Program announced by US President Harry S. Truman on January 20, 1949 to improve the economic situation of poor countries. Among the members of the IWC are the Republic of Ireland (since 1951), Israel (since 1949), West Germany (since 1951) and Japan (since 1951). In 1995 it was renamed International Grains Council.


The idea of sharing the wheat in the world in the manner that will lead to distribution of wheat from countries having surpluses to countries suffering from shortages was raised already during the economic crisis in the early 1930s. On August 21–25, 1933, a special international conference to that effect took place in London. It was attended by the representatives of Germany, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Spain, USA, France, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Romania, UK, Sweden, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. The Final act of the conference established a Wheat Advisory Committee, which purposes were defined in the preamble as

"to adjust the supply of wheat to effective world demand and eliminate the abnormal surpluses which have been depressing the wheat market and to bring about a rise and stabilisation of prices at a level remunerative to the farmers and fair to the consumers of breadstuffs".[1]

Establishment of the IWC

Following the Second World War, it was required to renew the wheat supply to the devastated countries, as well as to new and independent states. An international conference on even distribution of wheat worldwide was held in Washington DC from January 26 to March 23, 1949, leading to the conclusion of an agreement on the establishment of IWC. The agreement stated in Article 1 as its objectives:

"to assure supplies of wheat to importing countries and markets for wheat to exporting countries at equitable and stable prices".[2]

During March–April 1949, the agreement was signed by 41 various governments.

The agreement was ratified by the US Senate on June 13 and by the President on June 17, 1949. The Belgian government deposited its instrument of ratification on June 17, 1949. The agreement enteren into effect on July 1, 1949.

On July 6, 1949, the IWC held its first session, and chose London as its permanent headquarters.[3]

Subsequent developments

Additional agreements on wheat export were concluded in 1953, 1956, 1959 and 1962. In 1967 a new agreement was signed that included also the first Food Aid Convention, by which the members of the IWC pledged to convey an annual food supply to developing countries. A new Grains Trade Convention was concluded in 1995 as part of the International Grains Agreement, at which time the Council's name was changed to International Grains Council, giving recognition to the full coverage of coarse grains and their products in its activities. From 1 July 2009, the definition of grains under the Grains Trade Convention was amended to include coverage of global rice supply and demand in the Council's work and, in July 2013, oilseeds was added to the list of commodities covered.

Council membership

As of July 2013, the members of the International Grains Council are: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Canada, Côte d’Ivoire, Cuba, Egypt, European Union, Holy See (Vatican City), India, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, South Korea, Morocco, Norway, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine and United States of America.

See also


  1. Text in League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. 141, pp. 72-89.
  2. Text of the agreement Archived September 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.
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