The Chargé in Uruguay (Sparks) to the Secretary of State

No. 7648

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s telegram no. 322 of August 21, 194666 requesting the Embassy to keep the Department informed on details of developments in the Uruguayan wheat situation.

In an interview held on September 3, 1946, Sr. E. Storace Bordaberry, the President of the National Subsistence Board (Comisión Nacional de Subsistencias), stated that it had been the original intent of Uruguay to obtain 80,000 tons of wheat from Argentina for the six months period June to November, inclusive, but that 30,000 tons, although [Page 1295] promised officially by the Argentine authorities, had been cancelled. The request was then made for 50,000 tons from the United States since, even with reduced consumption, Uruguay would need a minimum of 17,000 tons of wheat monthly during the six months period.

During the three months period, June to August, inclusive, Uruguay has actually received only 36,649 tons of wheat, of which 19,162 tons have come from Argentina and 17,487 from the United States. This tonnage has been almost completely consumed, and, if new supplies of wheat are not received by the middle of this month the situation will become critical. Dr. A. Dominguez Cámpora, a director of the Bank of the Republic, is at present devoting his full time to trying to persuade the officials in Argentina to ship to Uruguay during September the quantity of wheat which had been promised from Argentina for the month of October.

Sr. Storace understands that two vessels will sail from Baltimore, Maryland, and Philadelphia, Pa on September 10 and September 29, respectively, both carrying cargoes of 8,500 tons each.

It is the opinion of Sr. Storace that, if 8,000 more tons of wheat can be obtained from Argentina during September, and if there is no delay in the arrival of the 17,000 tons from the United States, the situation will not again become critical until the first part of November, at which time Uruguay hopes to obtain another shipment of 8,000 tons from Argentina. If successful, however, the total amount of imports for the period of wheat from both countries will amount to only 69,000 tons, as compared with necessities of 102,000, based on a monthly consumption of 17,000 tons, thereby leaving a deficit of 33,000 tons. He believes, therefore, that the situation between November and December 15 may be extremely critical and that additional quantities may have to be obtained at that time from both the United States and Argentina.

There is a possibility that the harvesting of the early wheat may begin in the first days of December, but there is no high degree of optimism at present that this will take place. The locust invasion is now causing serious concern in Uruguay and measures are being taken in an effort to bring it under control. Uruguay is officially reported to have planted approximately 400,000 hectares with wheat, and, if an average yield of 800 kilos per hectare should develop, there will be a harvest of 320,000 tons, from which 40,000 tons must be taken for seed. The majority of the well-informed experts, however, are not anticipating at this moment a harvest materially in excess of 250,000 tons, which, less the 40,000 tons for seed, is approximately the average annual consumption.

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Sr. Storace emphasized that the situation regarding wheat in Uruguay continues not only extremely serious, but that at any time it may become critical. He also emphasized that forecasts of the next harvest are subject to change from day to day as weather and other conditions change in the interior.67

Respectfully yours,

For the Chargé d’Affaires ad interim:
Franklin W. Wolf

Commercial Attaché
  1. Not printed.
  2. In telegram 360, October 4, 1946, 7 p.m., to Montevideo, the Department advised that for the fourth quarter of 1946, 17,000 tons of wheat were allocated to Uruguay (833.61311/10–446).