Mr. Sargent to Mr. Frelinghuysen
Berlin , November 6, 1882. (Received November 25.)
Sir: I have the honor to state that there is renewed agitation in Germany against the introduction of American pork, and I am informed that a bill has been prepared, with the Emperor’s approval, to be submitted at the forthcoming session of the Reichstag, as a Government measure, to prohibit the importation of all American pork, including hams and live animals. Heretofore adverse action has only extended to sausages and chopped meat. This was excluded on the ground that [Page 306] it contained trichinae, and from its nature, being hashed, these could not be detected in it. These articles of trade were excluded on the ground that the public health required it, and could not be otherwise guarded. * * * American pork enters into competition with the domestic article, and very largely, and is afforded much cheaper than the domestic article can be.* * * The proposed law does not, as I am informed, proceed upon the theory that American pork is put in disguised forms, in which ordinary care would not detect disease, but assumes that all American pork and swine are dangerous from disease, and the task of discrimination among them is useless trouble. So far as I have been able to learn up to this time, American lard is not among the prohibited articles, although it embraces a large item in our exports to this country. Whether it will finally be excluded depends in some measure upon the power of the interests adversely affected by it. * * *
This exclusion of a great article of American product comes just at a time when trade reports show an unexampled export of German manufactured articles to the United States.
American competition is a sore point in Germany, and qualifies to some extent the views entertained here of America. Although we are large customers of the mass of German products, many of ours, including some manufactures, as well as wheat, &c., bear hard on certain interests here, and cause a clamor for special relief. This cannot always be granted without an appearance of unfriendly discrimination against a friendly power. * * *
Of course this bill is now only proposed. There are interests here opposed to its enactment. Hamburg, Bremen, Stettin are largely concerned in the commercial aspects of the matter. They will be injured by the stoppage of the carrying trade in American pork. Merchants dealing in this article in its various forms will object. Some of the newspapers call attention to the fact that there would be reasons to regret the adoption of such a measure in that it would render meat dearer to the mass of people and restrict the consumption of meat by the poor. I inclose an article from the Tageblatt of the 3d instant, in which this view is taken, and wherein the cheapness of American pork in comparison to that raised here is given as a reason why the poor should have a chance to buy it. It also believes it yet unproven that the American article is so unwholesome as to justify its exclusion. I shall keep watch of this matter and further report to you its progress.
I have, &c.,