The Secretary of State to Diplomatic and Consular Officers

Diplomatic Serial No. 660

Sirs: The Department quotes, for your information and such dissemination as you may deem advisable, the following statement received from the Secretary of Agriculture under date of August 20, 1927:

“It has frequently come to my attention that the opinion is held in many foreign countries that the Department of Agriculture of this Government uses for tariff and trade purposes its laws and regulations governing the importation of foreign products.

“I have repeatedly pointed out that no trade considerations enter into any of the restrictions promulgated by this Department. In my letter of May 5, 1927, to the Secretary of State, with reference to the quarantine against South African fruit,65 I stated, ‘It should not be necessary to say that no trade consideration enters into any of the plant quarantine restrictions promulgated by this Department under the authority of the Federal Plant Quarantine Act of 1912.66 No article which it is believed can safely enter the United States is restricted by any such quarantine[s], and vast quantities of fruits and vegetables are constantly coming into the United States where the competition from such imports with our own products is keen and even greatly limiting home production.’

“On June 17, 1927, I wrote the Secretary of State67 with reference to a proposed resurvey of the fruit fly situation in Spain as a basis for entry into the United States of Almerian Grapes, and in that letter [Page 735] I said: ‘It would seem unnecessary to reiterate that in concerns of this nature, where the entry of a foreign product menaces the security and future of important agricultural products of this country, such products should not be placed in jeopardy, or be made the subject of barter, with respect to the benefits to be received—commercial or other. On the other hand, it may be pointed out that this Department is confining its quarantine restrictions on imports strictly to the exclusion of pests—restrictions which it applies between our own States and to our territorial possessions with the same severity as they are applied to foreign countries.

“‘It might be noted also that in the case of Spain, entry is now permitted of certain fruits, namely, bananas, pineapples, lemons, and sour limes, and any vegetable which is not known to be attacked in Spain by injurious insects new to the United States.’

“The European corn borer, the brown-tail and the gypsy moth, the Japanese beetle, the brown-tail fruit worm, the pink bollworm, the cotton boll weevil, the alfalfa weevil, the chestnut blight, the citrus canker, and the white pine blister rust are some of the more serious pests and diseases which have been introduced into this country from abroad. These, with those outbreaks of foot and mouth disease, which has occasionally found entry into this country in various ways, have entailed enormous losses to American agriculture. In addition to these losses enormous sums have been spent in our attempt at eradication and control of the diseases and pests after they were once established. Congress at its last session appropriated the sum of ten million dollars intended to prevent so far as possible the spread of the European corn borer alone.

“Some time ago it was felt that the Department’s position on this question was fairly universally understood. On April 27, 1925, this Department wrote the Secretary of State68 regarding the Mediterranean fruit fly situation and concluded: ‘It is very pleasing to note that Senores Sanchez, Entrna, and Callejon are now satisfied that the action taken by this Department with respect to grapes from Almeria was purely a quarantine measure for the purpose of protecting the fruit of this country from invasion by the Mediterranean fruit fly.’

“The Department of Agriculture has made every effort to make its position perfectly clear not only [sic], but has also manifested the utmost leniency in the determination of means whereby entry into this country and sale on American markets could be effected of the produce of those countries in which these pests prevail. Wherever it was possible by effective processing or treatment of a character calculated to remove the pests or the cause of the disease, no objection has been interposed to traffic in those articles of commerce which might ordinarily serve as carriers. The Department has had repeated occasion to point out the fact, which is well known to every commercial agency engaged in the traffic of agricultural products in this country, that the same quarantines and restrictions applying to foreign products as a means of preventing the introduction of pests and diseases are enforced with equal rigidity in this country as a means of preventing their spread once they have been introduced.

[Page 736]

“I have requested the Department of State to make known to all its representatives, both at home and abroad, the actual purpose of the Department of Agriculture in the enforcement of the various regulatory laws which affect the import into the United States of products of foreign origin. It may also seem advisable for this information to be made available to press representatives who send material to foreign countries in order that they may have an official statement which will tend to off-set incorrect impressions which have been allowed to grow in those countries, and promote a proper understanding between this Government and the representatives of countries with which this Department may have occasion to deal in the enforcement of the various laws having import provisions intended to effect the exclusion of diseases and pests inimicable to American agriculture.”

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
W. R. Castle, Jr.
  1. Not printed.
  2. 37 Stat. 315.
  3. Letter not printed.
  4. Letter not printed.