Food Administrator’s File

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

Dear Lord Reading : I am in receipt of your note of March 30.

1. As to the first paragraph, I am somewhat astonished, but the difference may arise from the fact that the meetings of the inter-Allied council, per se, were confined to general terms and all detailed discussions with regard to wheat took place with the Wheat. Executive. I find abundant evidence in memoranda of the Wheat Executive of last autumn as to my statement of March 21 and furthermore, as you rightly state, it was confirmed in my letter to Mr. Robson of January 1. The exhaustion of the American surplus is repeatedly referred to and likewise the necessity of replacement of exports which were to be advanced pending the arrival of Argentine wheat.

2. As to the exportable surplus of Canada, I do think it is desirable that we should have some reliable figures on this subject. The Agricultural Department of Canada in January gave the total [Page 548] wheat yield for 1917 as 233,743,000 bushels. I assume that the carry-over next year need be no larger than last; seed and human consumption will require 60,000,000 bushels, leaving available for export 173,000,000 bushels for the whole season. The total exports to March 1 are about 100,000,000 bushels, leaving a balance of some 70,000,000 bushels or nearly 2,000,000 tons. I am utterly unable to understand how the official statement could be reduced between 30 and 40 per cent. It is true we can all expect some reduction in official crop estimates—in the case of the American crop we had an actual reduction of 7 per cent—but a 30 or 40 per cent error seems incomprehensible and I assume that a revision of Canadian figures will find a much larger supply available.

3. As to the quantities referred to in my letter of March 21, if you will refer to the programme agreed upon you will observe that the advances to be made by the United States were to be a total of 900,000 tons of wheat after December 1, this being the entire allotted task of the United States and, as set out above, even this being replaceable from Canada and elsewhere. The actual exports of wheat (or flour in terms of wheat) from the first of December to the end of March from the United States for the Allies have been (our milling was originally 70 per cent, now 74 per cent—not 80 per cent):

December 174,169
January 305,372
February 289,287
March 339,935
Total 1,108,763

Of this 1,108,763 tons, only 57,000 tons represent shipments to Switzerland, Belgium and Portugal, up to the end of February. This represents an excess of our promise of an advance against replacement by fully 150,000 tons. Against this we have had actual replacement of 430,000 tons of Canadian wheat as agreed, leaving an actual deficiency in returns to us of over 700,000 tons. I am however making no claims for replacement of this amount as we take it that we have saved this amount from consumption and therefore in accord with our assurance that we would ship everything we could save, the matter is ended.

4. We are making every effort humanly possible to reduce our consumption to a point that renders it possible to continue shipments and we do intend to continue shipments to the last grain that we can extract from our population. We must assume Canada will do the same. In this connection I would commend to the Allies the action of our leading hotels in stopping the use of wheat entirely—a practicable measure for even continental conditions as it bears upon the well-to-do population and not upon the poor.

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5. The points at which we need ultimate delivery of further Canadian wheat will be at Minneapolis and Lake ports. The detailed routes and sources can be worked out later. The main point is, the arrangement proposed by me allows us to ship unreservedly from all points, which we can not do without such assured distribution to and consequent preservation of tranquility in our industrial population.

Yours faithfully,

[ Herbert Hoover ]