Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson

Identifier

WWP19227

Source

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

Publisher

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum

Language

English

Text

Dear Mr. President

The Italian Food Situation.

This situation requires earnest consideration. The three-year pre-war average food situation in Italian cereals in tons (metric) was as follows:

                   Average         Average             Average
                  Production   Net Imports    Consumption

Wheat ......5,193,867      1,596,000      6,789,867
Corn ........2,546,375         425,567      2,971,942
Rice .........   487,307                376       487,683
Barley ........ 218,365           17,752       236,117
Rye ............ 136,922           18,306       155,228
Oats ...........545,516            131,221     676,737
 Totals           9,126,352    2,189,222      11,317,574

The production for the 1917 harvest is given by the Italian Government:

                            1917
                        Production

Wheat ............. 3,802,400
Corn ............... 2,125,400
Rice ................   512,200
Barley .............     61,600
Rye .................   113,300
Oats(estimated)    400,000

Total  ............... 7,014,900

The difference required to maintain pre-war conditions is, therefore, 3,300,000 tons.

The population can get on with a per-capita allowance of four hundred grams of cereal flours per day, or a total of 7,200,000 tons of cereals required.

Italy has also a necessary animal population to support, which is estimated as follows:

                                   1915     1917        Decrease

Cattle........................ 6,818,747  4,339,203  2,479,544
Horses, asses & mules .2,413,002  1,535,547    877,455
Swine .........................2,758,578 1,755,459  1,003,119
Sheep and goats .........15,298,912 9,735,463  5,563,122

Totals ........................27,288,912  17,365,672  9,923,240

These animals will require, roughly, 1,600,000 tons of corn, oats and other cereals, making a total of 8,800,000 tons against a production of 7,000,000, tons. Therefore, the cereal imports needed are about 2,000,000 tons, or an average of, say 170,000 tons per month.

It would appear that some further animals can be killed without damaging the breeding herd, but sooner or later a good deal of meat must be imported. Italy has the good fortune of large olive oil production for fat supplies, but, in any event, some meat and fats must be imported.

The problem should be only partially American, for India, Australia and the Argentine have a surplus of cereals. From India the voyage is twenty-five per cent shorter, and from Australia it is fifteen per cent. longer, while from the Argentine it is shorter to Italy than to England, and the routes are safer than from the United States. We will be absolutely unable to supply all of the Allied needs, and it is vital to pull upon Indian Ocean and Argentine supplies to the largest extent possible. It would appear that 400,000 tons of shipping are necessary for the transport of food to Italy, and should be supplied, but the foodstuffs should in the main come from outside the United States.

Therefore, the problem requires consideration in its entirety as to shipping and other source of supplies.

I am,

Your obedient servant,
(Signed) HERBERT HOOVER.

Original Format

Letter

Files

http://resources.presidentwilson.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/D09242.pdf

Citation

Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964, “Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson,” 1917 October 23, WWP19227, Hoover Institute at Stanford University Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.

Transcribe This Item

  1. http://resources.presidentwilson.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/D09242.pdf