Mr. Blaine to Mr. Lincoln.

No. 201.]

Sir: I inclose for your information a copy of a letter from the Secretary of Agriculture, dated the 18th ultimo, relative to the prohibitory measures of certain European Governments against American live cattle and meat products. The order of Her Majesty’s Government, as Mr. Rusk states, was based upon the existence of contagious pleura-pneumonia in our cattle, which has now been entirely eradicated except from a very small area (two counties on Long Island and one in New Jersey), over which a strict quarantine exists. As a matter of fact the disease no longer prevails in any section of the United States from which export steers are obtained. Other statements are cited tending to show the harshness of the prohibition in question alike to the subjects of Great Britain and the citizens of this country.

As a preliminary measure for securing information in regard to the character of the disease found in the American cattle slaughtered in England, the suggestion is made that an arrangement be proposed to Her Majesty’s Government by which one or more of the veterinary inspectors of the Department of Agriculture may be stationed at the English “foreign animals’ wharves.” “These inspectors,” states the Secretary of Agriculture, “would observe any affected animal which might be discovered, and by promptly notifying this Department it would be possible to trace the history of such animals and determine definitely if they had ever been exposed to a contagious disease.”

You will suitably present these and the other facts recited by the Secretary of Agriculture in his letter for the consideration of Her Majesty’s Government, and express the hope that the proposed arrangement may be effected; or that the removal of the restrictions now imposed or their essential modification, in view of the assurance herein contained that contagious pleura-pneumonia no longer exists in the United States except in the small and unimportant area indicated, may be made in the interest of American producers, as well as English consumers.

I am, etc.,

James G. Blaine.
[Inclosure to No. 201.]

Mr. Rusk to Mr. Blaine.

Sir: I have the honor to invite your attention to certain regulations and prohibitory restrictions which are enforced by a number of European Governments to the great detriment and in some cases to the destruction of the trade in live animals and [Page 318]meat products from the United States, and to request that you take such action as may be possible looking to a removal of such restrictions or their modification in favor of American producers.

In 1879 the British Government made regulations that all cattle, sheep, and swine from this country should be slaughtered at the wharves within ten days from time of landing. The effect of this order is to entirely exclude store cattle and sheep shipped for fattening purposes, and it considerably reduces the amount which can be realized for fat animals, because these can not be held until they have recovered from the effects of the voyage, and also because the buyers know that they must be disposed of within a limited time.

The order in regard to cattle was issued on account of the existence of the contagious pleuro-pneumonia of cattle in this country, but since its issuance this disease has been almost entirely eradicated. It no longer exists in any section from which export steers are obtained, and it is confined to two counties on Long Island and one in New Jersey, all of which are in strict quarantine. The stock yards which might have been contaminated have been thoroughly disinfected, and there is no longer danger of exporting the contagion of this disease.

During the year 1889 a number of cases of pleuro-pneumonia were reported by the English inspectors among cattle landed from the United States, but this Department regards such reports as based upon errors of diagnosis, for the reasons given above. This conclusion is considered the more evident because the returns which have been received show that in the greater number of cases but a single animal was found affected in any one cargo, which would be unlikely with a contagious disease. It is also admitted by most veterinarians that there are seldom any typical characters found in contagious pleuro-pneumonia which enable the inspectors to distinguish it from the sporadic or noncontagious inflammation involving the same organs.

In all such cases the diagnosis must be based upon a history of contagion or upon the discovery of a number of animals in the same lot which are similarly affected, a fact which indicates contagion. In the case reported by the English inspectors during 1889 there has neither been a history of contagion nor a sufficient proportion found affected to indicate a contagious disease. It would, therefore, seem highly probable that the disease observed in these steers was the result of injuries or exposure incident to the voyage.

As a preliminary measure for securing information in regard to the character of the disease found in the American cattle slaughtered in England, I would suggest that the Department of State make arrangements with the English Government by which one or more of the veterinary inspectors of this Department can be stationed at the English “foreign animals’ wharves.” These inspectors would observe any affected animal which might be discovered, and by promptly notifying this Department it would be possible to trace the history of such animals and determine definitely if they had ever been exposed to a contagious disease.

The thorough control which is now maintained over the small areas affected with pleuro-pneumonia in this country and the near approach of the time when this disease will be entirely eradicated, make it desirable that negotiations should be begun looking to the withdrawal of the British restrictions. The time is opportune for this, since the Scotch and English farmers are agitating to secure the same result so that they can obtain cattle for feeding from the United States. Their present supply comes mostly from Ireland, where prices are much higher than here and where the danger from pleuro-pneumonia is incomparably greater.

The restrictions on the importation of sheep into Great Britain were based upon the alleged importation of foot-and-mouth disease from this country. As this disease has never existed in the United States, except in two or three instances when cattle landed from England were found affected by it, and as it has never been allowed to spread here, it is evident that the sheep in question must have contracted the disease on vessels that had previously been infected by English cattle. The restrictions are, consequently, a great injustice, and should have been removed long ago. Their effect upon the trade is seen by reference to the statistics of the English agricultural department, which show that in 1879 the number of sheep imported from the United States was 119,350, and that it rapidly decreased until in 1888 it was but 1,203, though in 1889 it increased, according to the statistics of the United States Treasury Department, to 18,877.

The German regulations in regard to American cattle, as communicated in your favor of December 3, 1889, prevent the development of a profitable trade with that country. The single shipment made there last year yielded good returns, but the statement that was immediately telegraphed here to the effect that further imports of American cattle had been prohibited at once arrested all efforts in that direction. While any quarantine of our cattle is an unjust requirement, a four weeks’ detention would seem to be entirely unnecessary with cattle designed for immediate slaughter. Probably if this matter were brought to the attention of the German Government more favorable regulations could be obtained. At all events the State Department [Page 319]could be of service to the cattle industry of this country by obtaining exact information as to the regulations which would be enforced against cattle landed for slaughter. There appears to be, at present, considerable uncertainty as to whether such animals are entirely prohibited, or whether they may be landed and go to any part of the Empire after four weeks of quarantine, or whether such quarantine must necessarily be enforced with animals that might be at once slaughtered at the port of landing.

There have also been press telegrams from Germany which stated that American dressed beef and canned meats either had been or were about to be excluded. I would suggest that you obtain reliable information in regard to this matter and take such steps as you may consider proper to protect the interests of our exporters.

The prohibition of American pork by both Germany and France is still continued, notwithstanding the demonstrated healthfulness of this article of food. This regulation was made with a view of preventing trichinosis among consumers, but it has been shown that no case of this disease was ever produced in either country by American meats; indeed, the curing process through which all exported meats must pass is a sufficient safeguard against this disease. The surplus of meat-producing animals in the United States at present is such that prices are below the cost of production, and consequently it is extremely important that we should increase our exports of live animals and meat products, if this can possibly be accomplished.

Any further information on this subject in the possession of this Department which you may desire will be promptly supplied.

Very respectfully,

J. M. Rusk, Secretary.