Mr. Hay to Mr. Townsend.

No. 7.]

Sir: I inclose for your information a communication from the Secretary of Agriculture, inclosing copies of letters from Messrs. Patterson Ramsay & Co., of Baltimore, and Messrs. Ronaldson & Co., of Antwerp, from which it appears that the Belgian Government requires that cattle shall be transported to the slaughterhouse in vehicles and slaughtered within three days from landing, so that notwithstanding the decree removing the prohibition against American cattle, such animals are still practically prohibited.

In this connection, your attention is called to the Department’s instructions to Mr. Storer, in which the precise points raised by this letter of the Secretary of Agriculture were presented for the action of the Belgian Government.

Referring to the previous correspondence in regard to the matter, and with regard particularly to the Department’s instructions, No. 251, of April 19, and No. 254, of May 29, 1899, and to Mr. Storer’s dispatches, No. 185, of March 29, and No. 190, of May 13, 1899, you are instructed to urge upon the Belgian Government such a modification of the rules governing the importation of American cattle as will allow them to be killed within ten days from landing, that period being necessary to allow the recovery of the animals from the effects of the ocean voyage.

I am, etc.,

John Hay.

Mr. Wilson to Mr. Hay.

Sir: I have the honor to inclose for your information copies of letters from Messrs. Patterson, Ramsay & Co., steamship agents and brokers, Baltimore, Md., and Messrs Thomas Ronaldson & Co., Antwerp, Belgium, in regard to the exportation of American cattle to Belgium under the present regulations of the Belgian Government.

[Page 95]

It appears that the requirements that the cattle shall be slaughtered within three days from landing, and that they shall be transported to the slaughterhouse in vehicles, are such that they can not be complied with by importers, and that notwithstanding the decree removing the prohibition against American cattle such animals are still practically prohibited.

As the Belgian Government has shown a disposition to admit American cattle, I would request that this matter be at once brought to the attention of the Government through our minister, and that urgent representations be made for more liberal regulations.

In England our cattle may be killed any time within ten days from landing, and this period is necessary to allow the recovery of the cattle from the effects of the ocean voyage. Three days is entirely too short a period for this, and does not give the shippers time to make favorable arrangements in regard to the sale of the animals. If the cattle can be safely landed on Belgian soil and held for three days, they can just as safely be held for ten days. Arrangements should also be made by which the cattle can be driven to the slaughterhouses, as the expense and trouble of taking beef cattle in vehicles is such that it would prevent any trade developing.

I have, etc.,

James Wilson, Secretary.
[Subinclosure 1.]

Patterson, Ramsay & Co. to Department of Agriculture.

Dear Sir: Referring to the negotiations that have been going on between the United States Government and the Belgian Government with regard to the importation of cattle into Belgium, we inclose copy of letter just received from our Antwerp agents, which fully explains the situation as it stands to-day.

The alleged concessions made by the Belgian Government amount practically to nothing, as no American exporter will, under such circumstances, dream of taking space for the port of Antwerp.

The letter of our friends, which we inclose, gives you the situation in full, and we beg that you will put this matter before the Secretary and have him take it up in the proper quarter, so that some steps may be taken to remove the restrictions that are placed on this important traffic.

If they can not get the same regulation that applies in England, something like such a concession, in our judgment, ought to be demanded, and, if the United States Government can obtain this, they will be conferring an obligation on the cattle exporters and the steamship lines engaged in this Belgian trade, as well as helping to foster an industry which is growing daily.

If you deem it wiser, one of our firm will come to Washington to see either you or the Secretary as may be deemed best.

Trusting to hear from you, etc.,

Patterson, Ramsay & Co.
[Page 96]
[Subinclosure 2.]

Thomas Ronaldson & Co. to Patterson, Ramsay & Co.

Dear Sirs: Further referring to what we have already written you on this important subject, we are doing our utmost to get our authorities here to increase the limit of time in which the cattle have to be slaughtered after arrival. Our importers inform us that if they were allowed ten days shipments could then be resumed. Unfortunately, our Government is formed of the conservative party, amongst whom the agriculturalists are very numerous and powerful, and they are not at all anxious to facilitate the importation of cattle. If they have withdrawn the prohibition, and stipulated that the cattle must be slaughtered within three days, we believe this must have been mainly owing to the pressure brought to bear on them by your authorities. We would point out that the importation of United States cattle is now under exactly the same regulations as those coming from South America; hence we fear it will be difficult for your Washington friends or our importers here to get the Government to grant extra facilities in favor of the importation of cattle from your country. However, we are of opinion that the pressure must come from your side, although, of course, we will do everything in our power to support your efforts. We would therefore suggest your once more taking the matter up energetically with your Government, pointing out that the concession that has been made here is a mere farce and laughing stock and is no concession whatever. We feel sure that your authorities, when their attention is called to same, can not fail to see that in the eyes of everyone on this side it is a downright insult to the United States, seeing that the restriction imposed by the Belgian Government that the cattle are to be slaughtered within three days of arrival, and are not to be allowed to be driven from the ship to the abattoirs, but have to be conveyed in carts, make all importations and business in cattle impossible. We shall be glad to hear that you have taken up matters in accordance with the foregoing, and trust you will soon be able to report satisfactory results.

Yours, faithfully,

Thos. Ronaldson & Co.