The Food Bill receives such radical alterations so often in Congress that it seems difficult to determine when intervention should be made in order to secure a proper formulation of its critical features. As the bill has so far been amended in the Senate there have been introduced into it some measures which render the bill nugatory for food administration.
The most pertinent of these is the practical reduction of the operations of the Food Administration to the interstate commerce. If this is to stand it would be impossible for us to control any commodity unless it had some time in its career passed a state line. It consequently introduces a myriad of difficulties that render the whole operation hopeless and worthless to undertake.
Another one of these amendments is in the matter of farmers' cooperative associations. These associations are very numerous, especially in the ownership of elevators and have large position in the handling of the grain crop. If they are to be excepted from the bill, it is hopeless for us to control the movement of grain and entirely unfair to private interests.
Another amendment to the bill practically throws open speculation to all persons who are not regular dealers in foodstuffs. The most vicious form of speculation is precisely of this nature.
The general changes made in the bill in various particulars and the inclusion of many other commodities of such widely different character, combined with the difficulties which we now see in necessarily adjusting commercial operations to Government practice, make it desirable to have some new amendments added to the bill. This is particularly true with regard to the handling of the $150,000,000 working capital provided in the bill for the purchase and sale of foodstuffs by the Government. It is impracticable to conduct the essential activities in this direction without conforming to the usages of the trade, and the delays which will arise in closing transactions by the necessity of passing through the Treasury channels under the general laws, will be fatal. This could be solved by the authorization to yourself to create one or more corporations to be used as agencies for the purpose of food administration and the working capital could be subscribed as the whole capital stock to such corporations. This arrangement is not without precedent, as witness the Emergency Shipping Corporation. By such arrangement the different commodities and the different circumstances can be competently handled. It has also the advantage that it would center the limelight on a definite organ of the Government for a definite purpose and would permit of its creation along normal commercial lines, understandable by the entire people with whom it has to deal.
I have had the advantage of advice from Judge Curtis Lindley of San Francisco, Mr. Edward F. Burling of Chicago and we have called into consultation Mr. Joseph Cotton of New York and Mr. Roublee. They have formulated the attached amendments embracing not only the above, but some other matters of less importance.
It may be possible that these amendments should be taken up in conference and I would like to have your advice as to whether they should be presented to Senator Chamberlain at once or whether we should wait until the conference.
I am,His Excellency,The President of the United States,Washington, D. C.