Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson




Herbert Hoover writes to Woodrow Wilson about having a joint meeting with the European Food Administrators to resolve several problems regarding food supplies, shipping, and production.


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


Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum




Dear Mr. President

Certain discussions have arisen with regard to Allied relations to the Food Administration next year that I do not believe can be solved without a joint meeting of myself with the Food Administrators of France, England and Italy.

First, we must determine an arrangement of a cereal program next year, based upon the real needs of the Allies, and its adjustment to shipping conditions. Beyond this, as you are aware, we have a guarantteed price for wheat, and I am anxious that the three European Governments should prepare large storage for wheat reserves, in order that if shipping conditions improve in 1919 they could transport our surplus to Europe as a safety reserve for themselves, and thus will relieve us from the necessity of carrying this large amount of wheat at great investment.

A second problem arises in that the European demands for meat at the present time are larger on the beef side than our production will stand without conservation methods further than we can carry on a voluntary basis. On the other hand, we shall have apparently a large surplus of pork, and I have failed in my endeavors so far to persuade the European Food Administrators to substitute pork for beef in sufficient quantities to take care of our excess production and at the same time relieve us of strain on the beef side.

The broad issue in this matter is that in order to increase the animal food supplies from the United States our only hope was through an increased production of pork, which we were able to do over a period of less than twelve months, whereas to stimulate the beef production in the United States would have required at least three years and would have been of practically no importance during the war. From an economic point of view the same food values can be had from pork at an expenditure of much less than the amount of feeding-stuffs.

Our policy has been absolutely sound in this particular and was informally agreed by myself with European Administrators. But the Administrators have changed and the force of national habit and the desire in Europe to proceed on the lines of least resistance has so far not secured the cooperation from them in this particular that is necessary. I believe that a personal conference would effect this, as I am able to present to them strongly that they must support production in this country if they are to be safeguarded in the future. Any failure on our part to find a market for our large increasing pork production would discourage our producers to a point which might become a national calamity in production.

Thirdly, it is necessary that we should improve the organization of the “Executives,” who now handle the detailed cereals, meat, fats, sugar, vegetable oils and fiber on the lines that we have discussed with you during the last few days. In many of these commodities we are importers as well as the Allies, and we must have better cooperation in securing supplies and the elimination of competition in common markets abroad.

Fourth, I believe it will have a considerable effect on the psychology of the American produciton and consumption if we can present to the American people a definite statement that our food supplies must be pooled with the Allies’ and set out to them a definite program we must fulfill and to be able to state to them accurately what this program is. Furthermore, it will, I believe, be of utmost importance in maintaining morale in the civil population in Allied countries if I could state on your behalf that the American people will make any necessary sacrifice to maintain their food necessities. There is nothing they can ask next year that with common-sense management will be beyond our capacity on present promise of production and conservation.

I propose to be absent from a month to five weeks and to set up in my absence a committee of the principal divisional heads in the Food Administration. I will obviously assent to no plans without the reservation of your approval, and I would like to add an assurance to you that I shall confine myself absolutely to food problems. I will be glad to know if this program meets with your approval.

Yours faithfully,
[Herbert Hoover]

Original Format





Hoover, Herbert, 1874-1964, “Herbert Hoover to Woodrow Wilson,” 1918 June 13, WWP19435, Hoover Institute at Stanford University Collection, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.

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