File No. 103.97/113a

The Food Administrator ( Hoover) to the Food Administration Representative at London ( Sheldon)1


… I addressed the following memorandum to Lord Reading today.2 Wish you would present it at once to Lord Rhondda. Matter is of urgent importance; we must know within next two or three days whether Allies will purchase this foodstuff. It must not be regarded by them as any favor to us but as a service performed to them.

Several forces are in operation upon our beef and pork production: the internal transportation delays in bringing livestock from the farms to market and transportation delays in export of products to the Allies, delays in Allied purchases, and to some extent Allied contraction of shipping. The soft corn is endangered by the end of March and consequently producers are forcing the early finishing of animals. All these cumulate in a very acute situation. The result of the freer transportation movement with better weather is going not only to multiply the arrivals of stock in slaughtering centers, but these arrivals are of heavier weights and therefore the total quantity of meat very much larger. On the other hand this earlier marketing of meat is going to create a shortage in arrivals from June to September.

We cannot allow the result of this glut to break the price to lower levels than at present or we will discourage our farmers and demoralize the whole of next year’s production. To solve this situation we are confronted with several alternatives.

The first is to remove all of our restrictions on the consumption of meat for at least two or three months. This will greatly destroy the whole sentiment towards food conservation and will mean that our population will be eating excessive quantities of meat which will be interpreted into decreased exports to the Allies at a later date.

The second alternative is for the Allies to undertake a blanket order for all excess production of pork products until the end of April and to either ship them to the Allied countries for storage against the period of shortage, or alternatively to make such financial arrangements as will allow the extension of storage in this country. This will mean that the Allies will have to be prepared to take up to 450,000 tons of pork products in March and April.

On the other hand, as you are aware, we are entirely short of breadstuffs in the United States and I do not see how we can go on exporting at the present rate per month. It appears to me that in this situation food is food and that the natural thing would be that the Allies should take the whole of our excess production where we [Page 540] have an excess and not drain our shortages deeper in other directions. If the consumption of pork products in Europe could be materially increased, it would certainly reduce the demands for butter, cheese and breadstuffs.

In the matter of beef we will need if we are to continue our present conservation to increase the export, but as to the approximate quantity I am not prepared at the present moment to say. If we are to maintain the beef industry it will be necessary for the Allies to take beef products of the higher class, as it is generally on these products that conservation has taken place and it will be necessary to take them at somewhat higher prices than at present otherwise we must abandon conservation in this direction.

Herbert Hoover
  1. Transmitted by the Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Great Britain (No. 6747) for Sheldon.
  2. Sent as a letter to Lord Reading under date of Mar. 1 (Food Administrator’s File).