Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson




Herbert Hoover writes to Woodrow Wilson about limiting exports on pork, butter, and other forms of fat like vegetable oil and tallow.


Hoover-Wilson Correspondence, Hoover Institution, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, California


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum





Dear Mr. President

As I stated yesterday, I am greatly disturbed with regard to our whole situation as to fats. They fall naturally into three groups, namely, pork products, dairy products, vegetable oils and substitute fat products.

The price of hogs has increased from about $8.00 per 100 lbs., pre-war normal, to $20.00, of which $10.00 represents the increase since January 1st, and $5.00 since July 1st. The causes are complex; high feed, inflation, etc., but more particularly we are exporting more than we can afford.While the animals on the farms increased considerably in 1916, they are still only about 3% over 1912, despite our increase in human population. There has, however been an increase in animals slaughtered from about 33,000,000 on a pre-war average, to 46,500,000 during the year ending July 1st, 1917.

The average pre-war exports were about 950,000,000 lbs. of pork products, while during the year ending July 1st, 1917, they were nearly 1,500,000,000 lbs. If we take 1910 as 100, then the animals stand this year as 103, the number slaughtered 171 and exports at 215. These figures are not quite true proportions to the productivity of the country, owing to the short life of a hog, but they are, with the increase in price, significant enough.

I wish to present for your consideration, the following recommendations:

1.That we do not reduce exports to the Allies:
2.That we should reduce them to neutrals.
3.That we should reduce to all neutrals alike.
4.That we should, for the present, reduce them to the three-year pre-war average of their imports, or to the average of 1916-17, whichever is the least.
5.The Exports Administrative Board should undertake the limitation and should inaugurate the necessary machinery to carry it out.

During the past fiscal year we exported over 25,000,000 lbs. of butter against a pre-war net normal of something under 2,000,000 lbs. The high price of feedingstuffs has probably reduced our output. In any event, we are in no position to export to any quarter, more than the pre-war net normals, for butter is not only rising rapidly in price, but there are localities of actual scarcity. Fortunately, the Allies have lately been drawing but little butter.

Therefore, my recommendation is that for the present we should stop all butter exports and we can relax later toward the Allies if their necessities compel it.

Our exports of cheese and condensed milk have greatly increased but there are other factors involved which are not wholly clear and may be solved by the embargo of butter. In any event, I should like to reserve any recommendation for the present.

The export of various vegetable oils, tallow and soap, and other fat products, are much above normal to many neutral countries, although below normal to others, and prices are rising. In any rate, these substitutes would come rapidly into demand to replace any reduction of pork and dairy products.

I should like to recommednd that we should limit exports to neutrals to pre-war normal or to the average of 1916-17, whichever is the lesser.

If these recommendations, or part of them, meet with your approval, will you kindly indicate as much to the Exports Administrative Board.

I remain,
Your obedient servant,
[Herbert Hoover]

Original Format





Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964, “Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson,” 1917 August 31, WWP19172, Hoover Institute at Stanford University Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.

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