Roosevelt Papers

The Secretary of State to the President1

Memorandum for the President

[Subject:] British Economic Cooperation Toward Argentina—Meat Negotiations

It is no exaggeration to say that effective implementation of our Argentine policy depends on British cooperation in economic matters. Up to the present we have received only tentative and highly qualified promises from London to investigate the possibility of such cooperation.

As you know, we have considered that it is of the greatest importance that if the British ultimately find it necessary to sign a meat contract rather than to purchase on a month-to-month or spot basis, such contract should be for the shortest possible term. However, the rumor has persisted that the British intend to sign a four-year contract and Mr. Eden has now written to Ambassador Winant stating among other things that

“We have no desire to conclude a contract running for a longer period than is strictly necessary. …2 But our paramount duty both to our people and to [certain of] our Allies is to ensure that, during the acutely difficult post-war years, they shall be adequately fed; and the case made out by our Ministry of Food that only a longer term contract will ensure this as regards meat is entirely convincing.”3

In view of the situation developing on food surpluses as pointed out in Judge Byrnes’ report to you of September 7,4 it would appear that longer term commitments with the Argentine could be avoided. As Judge Byrnes has indicated, “Production in the areas under Allied control with the exception of Russia is approximately one third above normal production. War reserves have been established. When peace comes the reserves in the military theatres will become surplus.”

With respect to meat specifically, which the Combined Food Board may consider in relatively short supply, although it has not as yet [Page 394] analyzed or allocated the supply for the period November [1944] to November 1945, it appears that with the overall ample food situation, that some provision could be made for supplying additional meat to the United Kingdom from the United States, Canada, Australia and South American countries other than Argentina. I understand that there is a surplus of utility beef in the United States and with the current prospects of slaughter this fall that the surplus undoubtedly will be increased. It is also my understanding that there may be some surplus of commercial grades of beef. It may be possible for us to arrange to increase lend-lease of certain quantities of utility and commercial grades of beef to the United Kingdom provided a similar reduction of British purchases of beef in the Argentine is obtained.

I therefore suggest that you urge upon the Prime Minister that—

British purchases of meat in the Argentine be continued on a spot basis and that no agreement for a period of four, or even two, years be concluded.
The British Ministry of Food reduce its meat purchases in Argentina by resorting to the above-mentioned possible alternative sources of supply and by giving due weight to the promising food supply situation in Europe and elsewhere. I have been informed that our Army has terminated all purchases of Argentine canned beef through the British Ministry of Food, which, as you know, purchases meat in Latin America for us under an arrangement of the Combined Food Board.

C[ordell] H[ull]
  1. Sent to Quebec by pouch. In the Roosevelt Papers this document and Hull’s memorandum of September 13, 1944, infra, are attached to the following handwritten memorandum of September 16, 1944, from Churchill’s Assistant Private Secretary (Colville) to Roosevelt’s Naval Aide (Brown): “The President gave these to the P. M. in order that we might have copies made. This has been done and I return them herewith. J. R. Colville.” The Department of State record copy of Hull’s memorandum of September 12 is on file 841.244/9–1244.
  2. Ellipsis in the source text.
  3. The quoted passage is from a communication from Eden to Winant dated September 7, 1944. For the full text, see ante, p. 175.
  4. Not printed (Roosevelt Papers).