273. Supplementary Notes of a Meeting Between the President and Legislative Leaders, Washington, June 8, 19551

Sugar Act—In this presentation for amendment of the Sugar Act, Mr. Hoover, Jr. stressed Cuba’s internal problems, and also its expectations that it would get a major share of future growth of the U.S. market in return for having taken a cut in its quota two or three years ago. At present, Cuban sugar exports had not yet regained their former high level.

[Page 818]

Sen. Saltonstall2 pointed out New England’s interest by virtue of refineries that used Cuban sugar. He said that limitation of Cuban imports would restrict New England refineries and thus actually cause a tax loss to the U.S. Treasury.

Rep. Millikin stressed that there had never been any understanding among Senators involved in the earlier legislation that Cuba would have any monopoly of the market growth.

The President ascertained that the current law expired at the end of 1956. He subsequently pointed out that he had agreed to a 1955 submission of new legislation because of the intense interest of American sugar producers, and because submission of legislation would not in itself modify the existing legislation to run through 1956. He wanted it made clear that the additional proposal of changing the 1956 [law?] in the course of action on the new legislation was something that went beyond anything he had agreed to.

The Vice President noted how restriction of Cuban imports would have the effect of limiting Cuba’s ability to purchase the things we want to export. He said he was being pressed from both sides.

Mr. Morse3 pointed out how Cuban production had been terrifically increased after World War II.

Mr. Hoover cited Cuban unemployment statistics and the pressure of Communist activity in Cuba. Action on the sugar quotas, he said, with an adverse effect on Cuba, would have very deep political implications with regard to our fight against Communism.

Mr. Morse pointed to the current distress caused American farmers by low prices. The new quotas could give them some relief.

Sen. Millikin said he had sympathy for Cuba, but had to be concerned first of all with the domestic aspects. He hoped that Administration people, in talking to representatives of the sugar industry would be sympathetic to them.

It was agreed that the proposal presented by Messrs. Morse and Hoover afforded the most reasonable compromise of these conflicting considerations. Unfortunately, Mr. Morse said, it would mean that everybody affected would be very unhappy!

The compromise was one of enacting new legislation in ’55 which would not change the 1955 crop quota but would change the ’56 quota, and would provide for dividing future market growth between domestic and foreign producers, with Cuba getting 96% of the 45% foreign share.

[Here follows discussion of unrelated matters.]

  1. Source: Eisenhower Library, Whitman File, Legislative Meetings, 1955. Confidential. Drafted by Minnich.
  2. Leverett Saltonstall (R.–Mass.).
  3. Senator Wayne Morse (D.–Ore.).