Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, With the Annual Message of the President Transmitted to Congress December 7, 1896, and the Annual Report of the Secretary of State
Mr. Rockhill to Mr. Uhl.
Washington, September 3, 1896.
Sir: Referring to the Department’s instruction to you No. 140, of the 18th ultimo, sending you a copy of a memorandum of the 7th of August, 1896, left at this Department by Baron von Thielmann, on the subject of the prohibition of the importation of American cattle into Germany, I inclose for your information a copy of a letter from the Acting Secretary of Agriculture, of the 22d ultimo, in answer to Baron von Thielmann’s memorandum.
Mr. Dabney’s communication contains a carefully reasoned and convincing statement of facts in the light of which it is difficult to see how the sweeping prohibition against the importation of our cattle and meat products into Germany can be maintained.
You will present the matter anew to the Imperial German foreign office, temperately, but forcibly, adverting to the obvious misconceptions which mark the German case; and ask for a reconsideration of the subject in that just spirit which this Department is pleased to believe must animate the Imperial Government in dealing with a question of such magnitude in the relations of two intimately associated commercial states.
I am, etc.,
Mr. Dabney to Mr. Olney.
Washington, August 22, 1896.
Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge with thanks the receipt of your letter of the 17th instant, inclosing for the information and consideration of this Department a copy of a note of the 7th instant from the ambassador of Germany at this capital accompanied by a memorandum from the German foreign office, in reply to representations which were made to the German Government by Mr. Runyon, the late United States ambassador at Berlin.
The statements submitted by the German Government to justify the exclusion of cattle from the United States are elaborated with great attention to detail, but the conclusions from them indicate such a misunderstanding of the facts as they exist in this country that it would be necessary to take up nearly every sentence and discuss it at length in order to point out all the inaccuracies that are contained therein. This the Department will not undertake to do at present. It is believed to be sufficient to call attention to a few of the more important statements, and the refutation of these should be sufficient with a friendly country to show that the German prohibition has been made under a misapprehension and should in justice be withdrawn.
This Government does not deny, as might be inferred from Baron Thielmann’s letter, the right of other Governments to protect their own cattle industry by necessary regulations, but it does protest against regulations and particularly prohibitions which are not necessary for sanitary purposes. Congress has prohibited the importation of cattle into the United States from countries in which contagious diseases exist dangerous to the cattle industry of this country, and it has provided a way in which this prohibition might be removed when such diseases were eradicated. This Department has accepted the official reports of European Governments, and has not undertaken to prove that their reports were incorrect or purposely misleading. The existence of either foot-and-mouth disease, pleura-pneumonia, or rinderpest is admitted by the Governments of the countries from which cattle have been prohibited importation into the United States. The experience of the world has shown that these diseases are not only contagious, but that they may be carried, and often have been carried, long distances with cattle, that they can only be eradicated with great difficulty, and that they are disastrous to the cattle industries of the countries into which they are imported.
The situation in regard to the cattle of this country is entirely different. The official reports of this Government show that neither of them exist here. Pleuro-pneumonia was eradicated in 1892, and no case of the disease has occurred in the United States since that time, and consequently the disease could not have been found in subsequent years among United States cattle upon their arrival in European countries. It is known by all who have given attention to the subject that the lesions found in ordinary pneumonia from exposure frequently resemble so closely those of contagious pleura-pneumonia that it is impossible to make a diagnosis except by inoculation or cohabitation experiments. It has been assumed by certain European veterinarians that the pneumonia found in a few cases among cattle exported from this country was [Page 170]contagious pleuro-pneumonia, but no experiments of any kind have ever been made to demonstrate this view of the case; and as all scientific investigations tend to show that this disease can not originate de novo, it follows that if the disease did not exist in this country, and the cattle had not been exposed to it before exportation, they could not have been affected with it when they were landed in foreign ports. This Government has solemnly assured other Governments that pleuro-pneumonia does not exist in the United States, and has not existed since 1892, and in the absence of any more direct evidence than has been cited, such assurances should, it is believed, be accepted by friendly countries.
Baron Thielmann alleges that the State of New Hampshire only a few days ago issued a quarantine ordinance expressly prescribing the tuberculin test for all cattle which are imported into New Hampshire, and says: “It thus appears that the existence of lung diseases among the cattle of other States of the Union is certain.” The German ambassador must certainly be aware that the tuberculin test is a test that is never applied for pleuro-pneumonia, the lung disease to which Ambassador Runyon referred, but that it is exclusively a test for tuberculosis. It is applied only to breeding stock or milch cows, and is absolutely unnecessary for cattle about to be slaughtered. Tuberculosis exists among the cattle of all countries, and is less prevalent in the United States than in European countries. If the existence of regulations to prevent the introduction of tuberculosis is to be accepted as a reason for prohibiting the importation of cattle from other countries, then all international traffic in cattle must cease, as there is no country which is free from this disease. To raise this as an objection to the cattle of the United States, while cattle are admitted into Germany from other countries, is an unjust and unreasonable discrimination.
The regulations of the various States against Texas fever which are cited by Baron Thielmann as evidence justifying the prohibition, can not be accepted as such. These regulations are identical with the regulations issued by this Department, and are made for the cooperation of the State and Federal authorities to prevent the dissemination of the disease mentioned. They demonstrate the use of all authority, both Federal and State, to carry out regulations which we have assured other countries would be carried out in order to protect the cattle of the United States, and also those of foreign countries to which our cattle are shipped from any danger of infection.
It is not correct, as stated in the memorandum, that Texas fever has considerably increased in development in this country since November 7, 1894, when the opinion of the imperial sanitary bureau was communicated to this Government. It is true that a somewhat larger territory has been embraced in the infected district, as defined in the regulations of this Department. That is to say, the State of California has been declared to be infected. In reality only the southern portion of the State is infected, but the whole State is quarantined, owing to the lack of local laws for maintaining a quarantine within the State. This infection existed long before 1894, but as no cattle were shipped out of that section of the country, there was no need of any regulations, and the attention of this Department had not been called to it. As soon, however, as it appeared that cattle might be sent to other States from southern California, careful investigations were made, and the regulations were rigorously applied.
It is also incorrect to say that the disease exists in the infected district. The cattle of that district are immune to the disease and do not contract it, but when they are shipped to other parts of the country [Page 171]they are liable to disseminate infection by means of the ticks which they carry. The infected district remains infected because of local conditions which are not well understood, but this infection is not spreading in this country, and, on the other hand, it appears to be receding, as a result of the Federal regulations governing the movement of cattle.
It is not correct to say that the whole of Texas is now infected, and that this infection extends to New Mexico and the whole district between Texas and California. Western Texas is not infected, although the regulations of this Department when they were first issued for the current year, were made to include the whole of the State of Texas in the infected district. This was not on account of the extension of the infection, but it was because of a lack of harmony between the State law and the Federal regulations. The governor of Texas, however, promptly responded to the requests of this Department for uniform regulations; there was within a week or two full cooperation between the State of Texas and this Department, and the line was placed in the same location that it covered last year, and where it has been for several years before. The American authorities have, therefore, not only succeeded in checking the disease, but have confined it to its former territory, contrary to the statement in the memorandum.
While it may be admitted that the Federal regulations are designed particularly to prevent the dissemination of the disease beyond the infected district, this is sufficient for the protection of the countries to which we export cattle. As was explained in a former note, the Texas fever infection is, in the infected district, enzootic, and it may be that the conditions of that section will not, or can not, be changed. The area in which the infection exists enzootically is limited, however, by local conditions which prevent its extension. All that can be expected of this Government is to make and enforce regulations which will prevent the spread of the disease to other countries. The fact that not one animal in any of the foreign countries to which our cattle have been shipped—and several millions of cattle have been exported within recent years—has ever been infected with Texas fever, is sufficient evidence that these regulations are intelligently conceived and honestly enforced.
It is intimated that this Government can not prevent the exportation of infected cattle from this country owing to the extent of the coast; but it must be known by the German Government that cattle can not be taken from the United States to Germany, except upon vessels which are prepared to carry them, and that such vessels can not leave the ports of this country except with the knowledge of our customs officials. A certificate of inspection is required from an inspector of this Department before any vessel carrying cattle to Europe can leave our ports. If in spite of these facts the German Government fears that cattle may be taken there surreptitiously, a regulation might easily be made prohibiting any cattle, unless they were accompanied by a certificate of inspection. Such a regulation would guard against any danger of this kind.
As has been stated, there is no evidence existing that Texas fever can be communicated by our cattle to the cattle of Europe, or that it would spread from animal to animal if it were carried there. The experience in this country is altogether against such a view. The cattle which leave the infected district soon lose the power to disseminate the disease. The cattle which actually contract the disease do not disseminate the contagion. This conclusion follows from our experience with many millions of cattle.[Page 172]
As to the alleged danger of spreading Texas fever with the blood and carcasses of affected animals, it is sufficient to cite the experience of the United States, where, with millions of cattle slaughtered each year, the meat of which is transported to all parts of the country, there has never been a case of the disease attributed to this source. Nor has there ever been a case of the disease produced in this way in any foreign country to which our meat has been sent, although millions of carcasses have been exported. This danger is entirely chimerical, and it is certainly remarkable for a government to prohibit one of the principal articles of export of a friendly nation on the ground that such action is necessary to prevent the introduction of contagion, when the contagion mentioned has never been carried by the prohibited articles either in this or any other country.
Moreover, all the cattle slaughtered for the production of dressed beef for export are inspected, and the beef is certified by this Government as free from disease. The German memorandum is entirely incorrect in the statement that there has been a postponement of the time for “the regulations for the inspection of live stock and their products” to go into effect. These regulations have been in full force and effect in substantially their present form since 1891. The regulations of June 14, 1895, which were substituted for those of 1891, simply made changes in matters of detail, with the object of benefiting by the experience of the previous four years in the administrative work. These regulations went into effect July 1, 1895, and have never been revoked, postponed, or held in abeyance. The order which was postponed was one requiring a certificate of inspection with all beef products, whether fresh, salted, canned, corned, packed, or otherwise prepared. This order was postponed because it was too comprehensive and threatened difficulties with our trade in salted meats from Gulf and Pacific ports with South and Central American and Asiatic countries. There never has been a time, however, since 1891, when this Government could not have inspected all of the fresh, salted, or canned beef that would be offered for German markets under the most favorable regulations that could be offered for its introduction into that country.
Further than that, this Government would not object to regulations by Germany admitting only beef which had been inspected and which was accompanied by an official inspection certificate. By such a regulation Germany could be perfectly protected from any danger, without destroying one of the most important branches of our trade with that country.
After careful consideration this Department is unable to find anything in the German memorandum to justify the prohibition of our cattle and dressed beef, and requests a renewed and urgent protest against its continuance.
I have, etc.,