Mr. Hill to Mr. Thomas.

No. 66.]

Sir: Referring to your Nos. 100 of August 28 and 102 of the 5th ultimo, I inclose copy of a letter from the Acting Secretary of Agriculture stating that, for reasons specified by him, he thinks it will not be practicable for this Government to furnish the Government of Sweden and Norway with lists of United States meat inspectors, accompanied by facsimiles of their signatures.

This Department concurs in Mr. Brigham’s views, of which you will make such use as you may find appropriate and deem advisable.

I am, etc.,

David J. Hill.

Mr. Brigham to Mr. Hay.

Sir: I have the honor to acknowledge, with thanks, the receipt of your letter of the 23d ultimo, inclosing for the information of this Department copies of two [Page 735] dispatches, Nos. 100 and 102, from the United States minister at Stockholm relative to the exportation of meat from the United States to Norway.

I note in the minister’s dispatch of August 28, 1899, No. 100, that the board of health of Christiania, before making a final decision on the question of accepting the certificates and meat inspection stamps of the Government or the United States without authentication by the Swedish-Norwegian consul at the port of shipment, desires to know if all the inspectors of the Department of Agriculture are veterinary surgeons, and if this is the case, the board wishes to receive from the Department, through our consul at Christiania, a list “à tenir à jour” of the inspectors in question, accompanied by a facsimile of their signatures.

This Department is pleased to observe that the minister has informed the minister of foreign affairs that the meat inspectors of this Department are all veterinarians, and that the inspection is thorough and complete under the laws of the United States and the regulations of the Secretary of Agriculture.

As to the second point, this Department is not disposed to furnish a list of inspectors accompanied by a facsimile of their signatures for the use of the board of health of Christiania for the authentication of the certificates, first, because these certificates are issued by this Government and bear the signature of the Secretary of Agriculture, and are only countersigned by the inspectors. There is no reason to suppose that these certificates are counterfeited or are likely to be, and it appears to this Department that they should be accepted without the minute investigation implied in this request of the board of health of Christiania. In other words, it appears to be a reflection upon this Government to make a request which indicates a suspicion that meat is being sent from the United States under Government certificates which has not been properly inspected or which is covered by a false certification. I leave it to your Department, of course, to decide to what extent it is advisable to try to impress this idea upon the Swedish-Norwegian Government.

The second objection to furnishing such a list of inspectors is that the Department has now about 200 of such officials, and it would be no small undertaking to get up a list with a facsimile of their signatures attached, especially if this should be considered a precedent by other countries and such a list be frequently asked for. If the local boards of health of every foreign city should decide that they must be supplied with such a list it would mean a great deal of unnecessary trouble and expense.

Moreover, the force of inspectors is naturally frequently changed. Not only are the men shifted around from one position to another, according to the exigencies of the service, but some are dropping out and others are being added. This would make it necessary to send a weekly bulletin to such foreign authorities as wished to verify the inspectors’ signatures.

Further, it appears to this Department that there would frequently be question as to whether the signature of any inspector corresponded sufficiently with the facsimile sent abroad to be received as the signature of the same man. This would at least furnish an additional excuse, where it was desired, for holding up American meats for a sufficient time to have experts compare the signatures, causing great embarrassment and loss to shippers.

The more this request is considered the more it appears to be unusual in its character, unnecessary, and undesirable to comply with.

I have, etc.,

J. H. Brigham, Acting Secretary.