409. Memorandum From Secretary of Agriculture Hardin to President Nixon 1
You may recall that in our recent conversation regarding beef imports you asked me to consult with the cattle industry and Congressional leaders regarding a possible modest increase in the estimated import level for 1969.2
I have now completed those consultations. Of course, the people I talked with would be most happy if we held imports to our current estimate of 1,035 million pounds, and that is the course of action which I recommended to you during our meeting. While they would grumble some, they would understand why we might have to quietly permit the import level to increase to 1,050 million pounds during the coming weeks. A further increase to l,060 million pounds would result in more grumbles, but again they would live with the result if you considered such a level necessary for overriding foreign policy reasons.
Further weakness in domestic cattle prices would truly be politically undesirable. Prices have deteriorated about 15 percent from the peak period last summer or about $6.00 per hundredweight. Most students predict that cattle prices will continue to remain quite strong. On the other hand, an increase in unemployment and further consumer resistance may have a weakening influence on beef prices. Such possibility is a worry to me.