Food Administrator’s File

The British Ambassador on Special Mission ( Reading ) to the Food Administrator ( Hoover )

Dear Mr. Hoover : We have been carefully considering your letter of March 21st, and during my recent visit to New York I discussed it with our representatives on the Wheat Export Company. Your proposals turn mainly on the supply of wheat available in Canada; and I have therefore thought it necessary to summon Mr. Stewart from Winnipeg in order that we may have the fullest and latest information at our disposal. He can not arrive until next week and I must therefore ask you to allow me to wait till then before I deal with the substance of your scheme.

In the meantime there are several points relating to the figures given in your letter where I find that there is some doubt or divergence in our information. It is very desirable to clear up these in order that we may as far as possible have an agreed statistical basis upon which to discuss what it is best to do.

1. After giving the programme of shipments agreed upon at the inter-Allied conference of November last, you say, “As it was strongly presented to the conference that the United States surplus of wheat was at the time already exhausted it was agreed that the above wheat” (i.e. 900,000 tons) “was to be considered an advance to be liquidated from Canada later in the year.” Neither I nor my French or Italian colleagues find any trace of such an [Page 546] agreement in the documents of the conference. It would, indeed, have been inconsistent with the figures of the programme then set out. The total Canadian exportable surplus was at that time estimated at 3,200,000 tons. Out of this, 618,000 tons had already been exported before December 1st, and the programme put the exports from December 1st to August 1st at 2,725,000 tons, making a total of 3,343,000 tons. This shows clearly that at that time there could not have been any intention of repaying from Canada the 900,000 tons to be exported from the United States. The question was raised, so far as I know, for the first time, in your letter of December 29th.1 We have done our best to meet your needs by sending 430,000 tons of wheat from Canada to the United States; but our ability to carry replacement further must necessarily depend upon the available supplies.

2. You next give the figures of the cereals placed at the disposal of the Allies up to the end of March as compared with the programme, showing a total net deficiency of 298,880 tons. In order to arrive at the net figure, the 430,000 tons of Canadian wheat should be deducted from the 1,160,633 tons of wheat placed at our disposal in the United States. It must also be remembered that the programme was a programme of shipments; and as there are some 400,000 tons of flour on the books of the Export Company still remaining to be shipped after March 31st, this amount also should be deducted for the purpose of comparison with the programme. Thus the net amount of wheat (or flour in the terms of wheat) shipped to the Allies up to the end of March is only 330,000 tons, and the net deficiency, as compared with the programme, is 1,128,000 tons instead of 298,880.

3. Our representatives find difficulty in agreeing to the figures given in the latter part of your letter for the shipments of wheat (or flour in terms of wheat) in January, February and March. Our figures for the shipments to the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Portugal, Belgium and Switzerland on a basis of 80 per cent milling are:—

January— 268,943 tons
February 279,297 tons
March (approximate) 285,000 tons

It is possible that your figures may include shipments to other countries.

4. In working out your programme you arrive at a shipment of 800,000 tons for April, May and June. It is necessary to bear in mind that this includes shipments to Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland, and must not therefore be taken as being all available for the United Kingdom, France and Italy.

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5. I may point out that your figures result in an export from Canada during April, May and June of 1,275,000 tons, whereas the figure which you have taken as representing the Canadian surplus is 1,100,000 tons. It appears very doubtful whether even this latter figure will be actually available; but, as I have already mentioned, I await further information on the Canadian position, and in the meantime I refrain from discussing it.

It would, I think, materially assist us in considering your proposals if it is possible for you to give any indication of the probable places and dates for delivering the supplies which you contemplate. I assume of course that you do not include in these supplies the flour which has already been assigned to the Export Company and is already awaiting shipment.

I need hardly say that I fully appreciate the difficulty of the wheat situation in the United States and the great efforts you are making to conserve supplies for the Allies and the neutrals, and I would beg you not to think that the questions which I raise upon your figures are intended by way of criticism. I am only anxious to remove any obscurity or misunderstanding as to the figures.

I would suggest that when we have the necessary materials a discussion might with advantage take place between the various interests concerned, including of course French and Italian representatives.

Believe me [etc.]

Reading
  1. Not printed.