251. Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Holland) to the Secretary of State1

SUBJECT

  • Sugar Act

I fear that representatives of the domestic cane and beet sugar industries are undertaking to press through Congress amendments to the Sugar Act, and that they are attempting to circumvent the Department of State in so doing.

Some days ago industry representatives advised Mr. Waugh and me that Secretary Benson had assured them that, if the White House would approve his doing so, he would urge that the Sugar Act be amended by this Congress and that the Department of Agriculture would take the lead in developing a formula for amending the Act and in achieving industry-wide support for it. I have just been advised by the representative of American sugar-producing interests in Cuba that at 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, January 27, the matter will be discussed with the President in a meeting arranged by Senator Millikin.2 The meeting will be attended by Secretary Benson, Senator O’Mahoney, Senator Dworshak, the two Senators from Utah, Senator Ellender, and Messrs. Cooley (North Carolina), Willis (Louisiana), Boggs (Louisiana) and Hill (Colorado).

These reports indicate that Secretary Benson and the congressional leaders who will support amendment of the Act may be acting [Page 779]in concert to achieve Administration support for the amendment without giving the Department of State an opportunity to participate and express its views.

It is my own feeling that the proposed legislation can be defeated in the House and, perhaps, in the Senate as well. It is further my conviction that the Act should not be amended by this Congress.

I have drafted a form of letter (Tab A) from the Secretary to Secretary Benson urging that he avoid commitments which could compromise or embarrass the Administration.3

Recommendation:

1.
That the Secretary sign the attached letter and
2.

That the Secretary warn the President of this Department’s interest in this problem and request that he avoid making any commitment at the meeting on January 27.4

  1. Source: Department of State, Sugar Files: Lot 65 D 212, Revision of Sugar Act, 1955, Mem. Con. II. Confidential. Sent also to the Under Secretary of State.
  2. Eugene D. Millikin (R.–Colo.), was designated spokesman for the 20 Senators and 5 Representatives who attended the meeting with the President.
  3. There is no evidence in Department of State files indicating that the draft letter was ever signed by Dulles and sent to Benson. (Department of State, Central Files, 811.235/1–2655)
  4. In a memorandum of January 26, drafted by Waugh, Dulles wrote the President as follows:

    “I understand that you plan to meet tomorrow with Secretary Benson and a number of Senators interested in revising the Sugar Act of 1948, as Amended, which expires on December 31, 1956.

    “For the reason that there are important foreign economic factors to be considered, I would urge that neither you nor any member of the Executive Branch make any commitments until time has been had for further coordinated study on this important subject.” (Ibid.)