No. 167.
Mr. Sargent to Mr. Frelinghuysen.

No. 85.]

Sir: I have the honor to state that the following is the draft of the ordinance that has been presented to the German federal council for the prohibition of the importation of American pork products, viz:

The importation from America (the United States) of pigs, pork, bacon, and sausages of all kinds is forbidden until further notice.
The imperial chancellor is empowered to permit exceptions to this prohibitive rule, subject to the necessary measures of control.
The restrictive ordinance of the 25th June, 1880, with respect to the importation of pork and sausages from America, is abolished.
The present ordinance comes into force thirty days after its promulgation.

Commenting on the above, the Berlin correspondent of the London Times, usually well informed and impartial, but in this case evidently * * * catching at superficial appearances, has the following, under date of November 30, 1882:

The prohibitive ordinance of June, 1880, above referred to, only applied to the importation of minced pork and sausages, but not to hams, &c., it being supposed that microscopic examination of the latter would secure the exclusion of unwholesome consignments. But it has been found impossible to exercise a rigorous surveillance in this respect, and as it is known that American pigs suffer much more than the German from trichinosis, as well as from the infectious disease called hog cholera, the German Government feels compelled to take effective measures against the introduction of the dreaded germs. It is urged that the commercial and financial importance of the measure is not considerable. Live pigs are not imported into Germany from America in very large numbers, and of hams, pork, &c., only about 3 per cent. of the total national consumption; so that the difference could easily be made up by native breeders, or be derived from other states, such as Russia.

The correspondent accepts, as in good faith, and apparently without personal examination, statements to the prejudice of American pork as compared with the German article, which are totally unfounded, as also that the trade interests involved are very slight.

On the other hand a very strong memorial, in admirable temper, had been presented to the Bundesrath at the time this correspondent sent his dispatch by a committee appointed by a meeting of merchants at Hamburg interested in the American pork trade. This memorial, a copy and translation of which I inclose, shows by facts and irrefutable logic that the pretense that American pork is peculiarly diseased is the result of misinformation, and that the German trade interests in this article are very great.

The basis of this memorial is the report on this whole subject, made in May, 1881, to the State Department. I do not know how fully this report was circulated in Germany, but its conclusive statements are [Page 320] used with great effect in this memorial, and are proffered by the latter to the minds it is most necessary to influence.

The memorial alleges that the principal danger from pork consumption is from the use of native pork, which cannot be subjected to the inspection which can be applied to the imported article, and points out as a fact that notorious recent cases of infection have arisen from the use of German pork. It has been conveniently assumed heretofore that pork in which trichinae were found was American, the proof of its being American being that it contained trichinӕ. The singular fact is stated that German pork is sold by the producers at higher prices than the imported article, the producers then buying the cheaper American article for their personal use.

The effect on the poorer classes by depriving them of a food necessary for their physical and mental development is well pointed out, and the loss of revenue is shown, amounting to 2,271,480 marks, which must be supplied by taxation on other objects.

It is also shown that the loss to German shipping interests will be enormous, and the loss so occasioned will, in great measure, accrue to England, Holland, and Belgium.

I am more than ever satisfied that there is no real foundation * * * in fact * * * for the assumption that sanitary reasons require this measure of exclusion. Such documents as that I transmit are conclusive to any unbiased judgment. The facts are too well supported, the arguments are too logical, and the illustrations too persuasive to leave a doubt. There is the pressure of the pork raisers in Germany back of the measure of the landed interest that is taxed by the tariff on many articles of consumption, and demands a monopoly in this market, an artificial scarcity, that their goods may be enhanced in price.

* * * * * * *

Singularly just at this moment the German press discusses the message of the President to reduce our import duties, by which it expects a large increase of German exportation to America. That justice requires careful * * * consideration of American claims has not apparently occurred to them, at least not in connection with this sweeping exclusion of American pork products.

I have, &c.,

[Inclosure in No. 85.—Translation.]

memorial of hamburg merchants to the bundesrath.

The undersigned, citizens and merchants of this city, respectfully beg leave to make the following representations to the honorable Bundesrath for its consideration:

It having come to our knowledge through reputable journals that it was proposed to finally prohibit all importations of American pigs and pork into the district of the German Customs Union for sanitary reasons, a meeting of merchants engaged in that trade in this city was called on the 14th instant, at which the undersigned were authorized to call the attention of the honorable Bun desrath to such objections which, in their opinion, the proposed measure would encounter, not only from the interests involved at the places engaged in the traffic, which interests, however, we admit at the outset, will always have to give way to those of a more national character, but also, in a far greater degree, where national, economical, and fiscal interests are at stake.

If the reasons which on a former occasion led to the imperial decree of June 25, 1880, regarding the exclusion of chopped pork and sausages from America from Germany, are now also to be made to apply for prohibitive measures against other portions of pigs, such as are less easily controlled, as, for instance, hams, shoulders, &c., [Page 321] they cannot possibly be advanced to justify the projected prohibition against salt pork and bacon, for the reason that salt pork is only edible in a boiled state and trichinae are never found in bacon. If, however, there should still be some apprehension that trichinae might be contained in the small strips of meat that occur in bacon, the danger of infection could be reduced to the slightest minimum by the introduction of an obligatory inspection of the meat, which could be controlled at the ports.

But a comparatively greater danger lies in the consumption of our home productions, which cannot be so easily controlled, and in which every part of the pig is employed in the preparation of food, and it is from this source that most of the serious cases of infection of which we read in the papers originate, as, for instance, the late case in Brunswick. Although we cannot believe that in influential quarters any importance is attached to the newspaper reports regarding hog-cholera, which are actuated by interested motives, we cannot, nevertheless, refrain from calling attention to the official report made in May of last year to the American Secretary of State, Mr. Blaine, which sufficiently refutes the slightest suspicion that diseased pigs could be employed in the preparation of human food.

In this report, “Result of an investigation made under authority of the Department of State of the United States,” it is remarked: “The fact can readily be attested to that all rumors and reports that American pigs that have died of disease, or even by accident, are ever sent into the market, either in the form of meat or lard, are founded on malice and ignorance; for it is quite impossible for the packer or lard renderer, however much he might be inclined to do so, to use the carcass of a diseased pig in the preparation of human food in any form that could escape detection even by the most superficial inspection.”

The justness and warranty for the above remarks must be apparent to all who, like the undersigned, are acquainted with the true state of things from personal experience, in the great American stock-yards, and it is this fact which, in our opinion, imposes upon us the duty of making the following statement. By far the greater part of bacon that is shipped from America comes from Chicago, which place, as is well known, has not its equal on the face of the earth as regards the magnitude of its pork-packing establishments. The shipment of pigs to that place frequently exceeds 50,000 head per day, and there are often no less than 10,000 to 15,000 pigs packed, as is the technical term used for slaughtering and preparing the pigs for the market, per day. It must be quite apparent to anybody that so enormous an industry can only be conducted by means of the most careful classification of the work, and hence it follows that each separate branch of the work is done by such fixed rules that any deviation therefrom, as, for instance, the advancement of the interests of any single branch, would be highly prejudicial to the interests of the whole. The swine are driven into the stock-yards (cattle-yards of one square mile, English, in extent), and thence selected and purchased by agents, excellently trained and experienced in their calling, for the packers.

The company, a stock company with a large capital, to which the stock-yards belong, has a contract with another company, “the Union Rendering Company,” according to which the latter company has the right and duty, and, as it derives large profits from it, the interest to claim for itself all diseased animals.

From this arrangement, which has existed for years, it will be seen that it is utterly impossible to bring a diseased pig into market, and consequently it would be impossible for a packer, even if he desired to do so, to purchase a diseased animal.

But the business of those packers, too, is so extensive, each one of them, and especially all of them who work for the European trade are so well known, and are such wealthy people, and have acquired so world-wide a reputation for their wares in consequence of their scrupulous, conscientious management of their business, that their own interests would seem to compel them to exercise unceasing vigilance against any other than the best quality of absolutely healthy pigs ever reaching the market under their names.

All cases, barrels, and boxes, in which their wares are sent to all parts, bear their firm’s name, and it is known throughout the business world with what justifiable pride these firms strive to send nothing but the best article into market. They are well aware of the injury that would be done to their interests if they could be ever justly reproached with shipping a bad or even inferior article. By these principles they demonstrate anew the fact, that has been observed everywhere, that whenever a large commercial or industrial enterprise was made to flourish, it was done only by the application of honest principles, and herein lies, in our opinion, the best guarantee for the protection of the consumer.

The diseased animals are used exclusively in the preparation of grease, which, as is well known, is used only for technical purposes. Any attempt to mix it with pork productions designed for human food would lead to ruinous results to those engaged. Such a manipulation would be quite as foolish as an attempt on the part of a renowned brewery to mix a quantity of spoiled beer with that of an excellent quality, in order to increase the quantity. All the above details are not only well known to [Page 322] American and European business men, but any one having enough interest in the matter, and who has occasion to express an opinion upon it, can easily inform himself as to their authenticity.

If, in the face of such well-known facts, it has still been possible to circulate the reports that, in our day even, diseased animals were intentionally and systematically used in the preparation of human food at the great American packing-houses, we believe, until we have received proofs to the contrary, that they were circulated by mistake, and on the strength of misleading statements. If we may now be allowed to regard the question from a national, economical point of view, we are convinced that a general prohibition would be greatly prejudicial to the interests of a great number of consumers, more especially to the poorer classes of our fatherland, without any advantage accruing to the German agriculturist. Yes, it can even be proven that such a prohibition would be injurious to the real interests of the latter. Of meat salted, fresh and prepared, there was imported into Germany, in—

1878 632,235
1879 800,788
1880 477,314
1881 378,580

Although the customs tariff makes no distinction between the kinds of meat, it is nevertheless well known to the initiated, and also apparent from the returns from the places whence th se articles are principally shipped (Bremen, Hamburg, Belgium, and from the United States direct), that bacon is an important factor in the foregoing figures.

Of late years the importation has been sensibly diminished, owing to the high prices which have been occasioned by the short crops in America. When, however, prices were moderate, and the shipments more extensive, it was possible to supply a large portion of our poorer classes, and notably in the industrial district of Germany, with an article of animal food in the form of cheap American bacon, so useful to this class, and so necessary to their physical and intellectual development. The same state of things will again result from an increase in American crops, and nothing, in our opinion, could justify a measure which would deprive the classes in question of this so important article of food—not even a consideration for the interests of the German agriculturists—for what the latter produce in pigs and pork preparations brings such high prices, and during the period of cheap American pork brought such high prices, that our poorer classes could never think of purchasing domestic hams or bacon and lard to any extent worth mentioning.

On the contrary, is has frequently happened—and herein lies the proof of the above-made statement—that the unrestricted importation of bacon has redounded to the interests of the German agriculturist; that land-owners and farmers have sold the swine raised on their lands for the high prices which were paid in the markets (the price seldom fell much below 50 marks for 100 pounds, no matter whether American bacon cost 30 or 75 marks per 100 pounds), and bought for their own use the cheaper American bacon.

If, therefore, the sanitary reasons advanced for the prohibition and consumption of American bacon are not tenable, whereas on the other hand the interests of the poorer classes would seem to demand imperatively an unrestricted importation of this important article of food; and experience has taught us, moreover, that such importation can in no way be prejudicial to German agriculture—we may be pardoned for pointing out the fact that through a prohibitive measure the income from this source, which amounted to, in—

1878 948,359
1879 1,736,219
1880 2,863,884
1881 2,271,480

would cease, and the deficiency would probably have to be made good by the imposition of heavier duties upon other articles.

We would also, in conclusion, refer to the enormous loss accruing to the German shipping interests (even the provisioning of the ships, as far as this article of food is concerned, would have to be done in foreign ports), as also to the extensive intermediate traffic in the article in question with Scandinavia and Denmark by such prohibition. This traffic, in eve the transit trade were not also prohibited by an especial measure, would be unnecessarily lost to German shipping and German trade and be diverted into Belgian, Hollandish, and English channels.

We therefore take the liberty at this early day to express the hope that, in case a general-prohibition should be considered inevitable, the honorable Bundesrath will be pleased to consider as feasible the request to retain to the seaports the international [Page 323] traffic in the articles in question as soon as the latter shall have adopted such measures that will prevent any of the prohibited articles from reaching the German markets.

As any other motives for the contemplated prohibition than those alluded to have not been made public, as far as we are aware, we are constrained to confine ourselves to the foregoing statements and remarks, to which, however, we respectfully beg leave to make such further additions as occasion may offer.

We express the hope, however, that the honorable Bundesrath, in giving all due consideration to the German interests involved in the question, will come to the conclusion that the said interests do not require a prohibition of the importation of American pork and bacon; and that these two articles may be exempted from any prohibitive measure that may be adopted.

With all due respect for the honorable Bundesrath,