662.11173 Barley/30: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Chargé in Germany (Poole)

105. Your 205, October 8, 3 p.m. The following is the text of a memorandum and its enclosure which was given today to the German Embassy by the Department and which you may, upon request, communicate to the German Government:

“The Government of the United States has been deeply concerned by the situation created by the restrictive measures which the German Government has applied to American barley, and has given its utmost attention and consideration to the various suggestions made in the German aide memoires of September 27 and 29 and October 8,51 looking toward an amelioration of the present state of affairs. It has noted with gratification that the German Government has instituted a prompt and thorough official investigation, the results of which it understands will be available within a few days, with respect to the alleged unfitness for consumption by hogs of American barley as received in Germany. The Government of the United States wishes to express its high appreciation of the friendly spirit in which the German Government has invited the cooperation of this Government in dealing with a state of affairs that is a source of concern to both countries.

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“The Government of the United States fully reciprocates the desire of the German Government for cooperation, and the fact that it has refrained from taking part in a joint investigation as suggested by the German Government in no way evidences a lack of good will on its part. However, in view of the statement that scientific examination is already in progress under the direction of German experts and is nearing completion, it is not perceived in what manner the assistance of American experts could be of advantage to the German experts in their task. It may furthermore be observed that inasmuch as this Government has no experts at present in Europe qualified to take part in such an investigation, the designation of American experts would presumably delay the completion of the German investigations and findings and create an atmosphere of uncertainty in the public mind, thus tending to aggravate the present state of affairs.

“However, this Government will hasten to give its immediate and attentive consideration to the reports of the German investigations and findings as soon as they are made available, and will study them in the light of the experiments made in this country, the nature of which is indicated in the attached statement by the Department of Agriculture.

“Regarding the suggestion that the Government of the United States exercise its influence to facilitate direct negotiations between the American shippers and the German importers with a view to the reaching of an amicable settlement of the difficulties which have arisen, it may be pointed out that it is the practice of this Government to leave the question of such negotiations to the direct initiative of the interested private parties. Moreover, the German Government will doubtless be interested to learn that this Government has been informed that daily communication is being carried on between the American shippers and the German importers through the usual business channels. In this connection, it may be observed that Governmental intervention in the situation might conceivably tend to affect the contractual relations of the American shippers and the German importers, and constitute an act of interference which might be unwarranted in the circumstances.

“With regard to the question of suspending the issuance of export certificates for shipments of barley to Germany, this Government submits that the evidence now available does not appear sufficiently specific or complete to justify such a measure. In this connection, it may be said that the competent American authorities are thoroughly satisfied that the certifications of barley in this country have been and are being properly and carefully made in accordance with the established and recognized official standards of grain classification, and have indicated the impracticability of making the issuance of these certificates contingent upon the application of bacteriological and feeding tests to barley shipments to Germany.

“The attached memorandum of the Department of Agriculture, to which reference has been made, deals more particularly with the technical and scientific phases of this question.”

Enclosure, Department of Agriculture memorandum,

“The Department of Agriculture views the barley complaint as a purely scientific problem and therefore is deeply interested in the [Page 913] feeding difficulties reported in Germany and in the scientific tests now being made by the German Government. Under date of September 15 the Department of Agriculture received a radiogram from the Bremen Association of Grain Importers complaining against shipments via certain vessels carrying barley certificated as No. 2. The Department has reexamined official samples of the cargoes mentioned in said radiogram and is convinced that the inspection and certification thereof was correct and conducted in accordance with long established and universally recognized commercial procedure as contemplated by the United States grain standards Act,52 and that the shipments mentioned were properly certificated as No. 2. However, the Department was much impressed with the seriousness of the complaint and immediately instituted thorough-going scientific research for the purpose of determining the possible cause of the reported feeding difficulties. A progress report of our scientific studies is as follows:

“Barley typical of exports to Germany from United States ports this season has been fed as exclusive diet, except for a small quantity of tankage, for a period of eight consecutive days to hogs at the Department of Agriculture Experimental Farm here with no symptoms of illness or refusal to eat. Furthermore, microscopic, bacteriological and pathological investigations have revealed nothing as a cause for sickness in this character of barley.

“A complete and exhaustive scientific research will be continued by the Department of Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture desires to assure the Department of State that No. 2 Barley in accordance with the official grain standards of the United States must be wholesome feed. This is fundamental from the standpoint of our domestic producers, dealers and consumers as well as our export trade. In the event that something new to science is discovered, which shows in fact that the present standards are inadequate for this purpose, there would be left to the Department no other proper course than so to adjust its inspection and grading procedure as to care for the situation.”


This matter has been exhaustively considered by the Department in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture and with American shippers, so that the foregoing statement of this Government’s position is felt to be self-explanatory. Due to excessive rains in regions where barley was grown, early shipments may have been inferior in quality to later ones, it is admitted by shippers, but both Department of Agriculture and shippers emphatically state that standards for export barley have been conformed to strictly in all shipments. Improvement in barley market, and a possibly superior quality in later shipments, according to shippers, will tend to put an end to present situation. They greatly doubt actual establishment of threatened embargo by German Government.

No more publicity than necessary is desired by the Department in this matter. Should German press, however, publish hostile statements [Page 914] or articles criticizing this Government by alleging its refusal to cooperate in friendly way, you are authorized to make public the texts of the above memoranda. You should, in such event, of course, telegraphically inform the Department.

The reaction of the German Government to this note and any later developments should be closely reported by you to the Department.

  1. Aide-mémoire of September 29 and October 8 not printed.
  2. Approved Aug. 11, 1916; 39 Stat. 482 ff.