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McDougall, Frank Lidgett (1884–1958)

Mr. Frank Lidgett McDougall, one of the founders of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, died on 15th February in Rome.

Mr. McDougall was born in Blackheath, England, in 1884 and studied at Darmstadt and London Universities. As a young man he came to Australia and took up land at the irrigation settlement of Renmark, where for some years he was occupied in clearing and levelling land, and soon made it into a successful irrigated fruit farm. During the First World War he served with the Australian Imperial Forces as a subaltern, and after the war became interested in marketing problems for Australian agricultural produce. He was in the front-line in the campaign for Imperial Preference, and for his services was awarded in 1926 the C.M.G.

From 1932 to 1945 Mr. McDougall was Economic Adviser to the Australian Government in London. His interest in marketing problems within the Commonwealth widened and the international aspects of the problem became more and more his concern. He was Australian representative on the International Wheat Advisory Committee and also his country's representative to the League of Nations on agricultural questions and to the International Institute of Agriculture.

The decision of the World Monetary and Economic Conference, to which he was a delegate, to restrict agricultural production further in the already poverty-stricken world of the 1930's filled him with dismay. He started to develop his ideas on food distribution, production, nutrition, and public welfare, and through his close friendship with John Boyd Orr came to realise that it was essential to convince world opinion of the close relationship between nutrition, agriculture, and economic development.

In 1941 the Commonwealth Government sent Mr. McDougall to Washington to an economic mission, which included the negotiation of a wheat agreement, and it was there that he again outlined his ideas in a memorandum, which resulted in an invitation to the White House. In September 1942 he met Mr. and Mrs. Roosevelt and Mr. Harry Hopkins at luncheon and took the opportunity to outline the idea of an international agency concerned with food and agriculture that was to be F.A.O. Early in 1943 the President issued his invitations to the United Nations to hold their first conference on food and agriculture at Hot Springs, Virginia. The conference was held in May 1943 and Mr. McDougall was a member of the Australian delegation. From then on he worked for the establishment of F.A.O. in the United Nations Interim Commission for Food and Agriculture, and after F.A.O.'s establishment in 1945 at the Quebec Conference, became Counsellor to the Director-General and later Special Assistant, in which capacity he represented F.A.O. for a number of years at the United Nations General Assembly and at the Economic and Social Council. Mr. McDougall's health had been failing for the last two years, but he still spent all his days at his desk at F.A.O. and was a trusted consultant to the Director-General and an appreciated adviser to the secretariat.

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'McDougall, Frank Lidgett (1884–1958)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 25 October 2020.

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