Food Administrator’s File

The British and Italian Ambassadors and the French High Commissioner ( Reading , Macchi di Cellere , Tardieu ) to the Food Administrator ( Hoover )

Dear Mr. Hoover : We saw Mr. McAdoo on Thursday morning, and he expressed himself most anxious to meet the situation.

As you are aware, he has arranged to carry the 150,000 tons of pork products and meat from Chicago by special trains, so that this problem is in a process of solution. Mr. McAdoo definitely stated that he was prepared to go to any length to overcome the present difficulty of carrying food to the seaboard and said that if we would keep him informed of the places where the grain was collected he would see that it was fetched as quickly as possible. We undertook to give him this information in full and also as to our ship tonnage capacity at the different ports, and also to tell him where cars were specially needed and where there was delay in carrying out his directions.

We are in fact supplying him with all this information, so if the grain is available it will be brought to the seaboard even if we have to ask for wholly exceptional measures. We have all the ships necessary to take it.

February is so far advanced that there is not much prospect of doing more than has already been done, but the vital necessity of a very large shipment in March or April cannot be exaggerated.

We feel that every endeavour must be made to ship at least 1,100,000 tons in March and more than that if possible. With that object in view we have got together the necessary shipping, and we are now met with the probability of being unable to procure sufficient grain to load full cargoes. A situation such as that would be nothing short of a calamity, and we most earnestly seek your assistance.

Mr. Robson, in a letter dated February 20th addressed to the President of the U.S.F.A. Grain Corporation, summarized the position as regards amounts available for March. These totals show a deficiency of at least 250,000 tons, which we cannot reasonably anticipate obtaining in the market.

The course which Mr. Robson has suggested and which seems to us to be the only solution is to ask you to help us at this most critical juncture by releasing to us 300,000 tons of bulk wheat from your reserves. [Page 538] In this way and in this way alone can the situation be relieved. You are so familiar with the grave urgency of this problem that we do not recapitulate the facts, but we must meet and overcome the present crisis.

Apart from the special need for the 300,000 tons, our attention must be concentrated on securing month by month a constant supply of cereals, and we ask your aid in securing this as well.

Now that we have got the pledged word of Mr. McAdoo that cars shall be available and the congestion dispersed, and now that we have at great sacrifice sent ships here specially to collect food, we most earnestly appeal to you to secure us the certainty of being able to obtain the necessary cereals.

We make both of these requests to you conscious that you will do your utmost, as you have persistently done, to help meet our nations’ needs. Our excuse for our insistence is the fact, which is well known to you, that a failure to make adequate shipments in March may produce events of incalculable gravity in both Europe and America.

We are [etc.]

  • V. Macchi Di Celuere
  • Reading
  • André Tardieu