No. 336

865.00 TA/12–651: Telegram

The Chief of the ECA Mission in Italy (Dayton) to the Acting Administrator for Economic Cooperation (Bissell)1


Toeca 1382. This is a joint ECAEmb msg. Ref: Ecato 1392, Nov 28.2 We confirm that recent floods constitute disaster of national [Page 748] significance. They have also shocked Ital public and evoked extremely generous response, especially from working classes. Consequently for both econ and polit reasons we feel ECA/MSA shld exert every effort possible within Charter. Emergency also constitutes exceptional opportunity to demonstrate that US interest in Eur is not now confined only to rearmament, provided we can act quickly.3

Re immediate action proposed (para 3 reftel), understand Ital FonOff, after consultation De Gasperi, has instructed Ital Emb express thanks for ECA suggestion and ask for one flood expert to come immediately. What they hope is that some highly qualified individual who handled cleanup work after Kansas-Missouri flood can be supplied and that he can arrive within a few days. We concur on both points. ECA mission has its own reclamation engineers qualified to assist Itals thru estab channels and it wld be preferable use them unless expert with major cleanup experience can arrive on the spot before Ital engineers have started work along their own lines. There is neither time nor need for TA type B team operation. What is needed is one highly qualified man immediately.

Please advise whether Ital Emb reply constitutes sufficient Ital request or whether something further is required.

Re planting of spring crops, mission working on project for use 175 million counterpart lire for purchasing in Ital some high-yield and quick-yield seed, especially 500 tons hybrid corn and 200 tons alfalfa, and distribution through Consorzia Agrario. Mission also exploring possibilities procuring pumps and tractors locally for immediate delivery. With various lire funds approaching exhaustion, chief difficulty will be in financing. Best possibility appears to be diverting some of 3 billion lire earmarked for tourism.

Another possibility is drawing on small uncommitted balances in TA fund (about 1 billion now on hand). Finally, perhaps 150 million lire could be obtained from 5 percent counterpart balances if this permissible. ECA/W and OSR please comment on these possibilities.

Although Agriculture Min reports about 6,000 cows lost out of total of 60,000 for Italy, there will probably not be critical shortage of draft animals. It is hoped sufficient machinery for spring cultivation will be available through collective action.

[Page 749]

In addition to pumps and tractors it is expected dredges and heavy earthmoving equipment will be urgently needed soon. This will probably call for some use of dollar funds and counterpart.

Not now expected that substantial changes will be needed in import program if cleanup and planting are speeded. Present stocks sugar and wheat adequate. No information available yet on damage to natural gas wells or pipelines.

Further reports will follow.

  1. Repeated to Paris.
  2. Telegram Ecato 1392 requested information from the ECA Mission in Italy which was necessary for planning for immediate, medium-term, and long-term aid to Italy because of the flood damage. (ECA message files, FRC 53A278, Rome)
  3. In a statement released to the press on November 21, Acting Secretary of State Webb stated that the ECA would provide 8 billion lire of counterpart funds for the reconstruction of the damaged parts of Italy. In addition numerous private relief agencies also sending assistance. Webb’s statement is printed in Department of State Bulletin, December 3, 1951, p. 894.