How America Has Fed the Allies

By Herbert C. Hoover
[United States Food Administrator]

[The New York Times/Current History, September 1918]

It is now possible to summarize the shipments of foodstuffs from the United States to the allied countries during the fiscal year just closed practically the last harvest year. These amounts include all shipments to allied countries for their and our armies, the civilian population, the Belgium relief, and the Red Cross. The figures indicate the measure of effort of the American people in support of allied food supplies.

The total value of these food shipments, which were in the main purchased through, or with the collaboration of, the Food Administration, amounted to, roundly, $1,400,000,000 during the fiscal year.

The shipments of meats and fats (including meat products, dairy products, vegetable oils, etc.) to allied destinations were as follows:

 

Pounds

Fiscal year 1916-17
Fiscal year 1917-18
Increase

2,166,500,000
3,011,100,000
844,600,000

Our slaughterable animals at the beginning of the last fiscal year were not appreciably larger in number than the year before, and particularly in hogs; they were probably less. The increase in shipments is due to conservation and the extra weight of animals added by our farmers.

The full effect of these efforts began to bear their best results in the last half of the fiscal year, when the exports to the Allies were 2,133,100,000 pounds, as against 1,266,500,000 pounds in the same period of the year before. This compares with an average of 801,000,000 pounds of total exports for the same half years in the three-year pre-war period. In cereals and cereal products reduced to terms of cereal bushels, our shipments to allied destinations have been:

 

Bushels

Fiscal year 1916-17
Fiscal year 1917-18
Increase

259,900,000
340,803,000
80,900,000

Of these cereals our shipments of the prime breadstuffs in the fiscal year 1917-18 to allied destinations were: Wheat, 131,000,000 bushels and rye 13,900,000 bushels, a total of 144,900,000 bushels.

The exports to allied destinations during the fiscal year 1916-17 were: Wheat, 135,100,000 bushels and rye 2,300,000 bushels, a total of 137,400,000 bushels. In addition, some 10,000,000 bushels of 1917 wheat are now in port for allied destinations or en route thereto. The total shipments to allied countries from our last harvest of wheat will be, therefore, about 141,000,000 bushels, or a total of 154,900,000 bushels of prime breadstuffs.

In addition to this we have shipped some 10,000,000 bushels to neutrals dependent upon us and we have received some imports from other quarters. A large part of the other cereals exported has also gone into war bread.

It is interesting to note that since the urgent request of the Allied Food Controllers early in the year for a further shipment of 75,000,000 bushels from our 1917 wheat than originally planned, we shall have shipped to Europe, or have en route, nearly 85,000,000 bushels. At the time of this request our surplus was already more than exhausted.

This accomplishment of our people in this matter stands out even more clearly if we bear in mind that we had available in the fiscal year 1916-17 from net carry over and a surplus over our normal consumption about 200,000,000 bushels of wheat which we were able to export that year without trenching on our home loaf. This last year, however, owing to the large failure of the 1917 wheat crop we had available from net carry over and production and imports only just about our normal consumption. Therefore our wheat shipments to allied destinations represent approximately savings from our own wheat bread.

These figures, however, do not fully convey the volume of the effort and sacrifice made during the past year by the whole American people. Despite the magnificent effort of our agricultural population in planting a much increased acreage in 1917, not only was there a very large failure in wheat, but also the corn failed to mature properly, and corn is our dominant crop.

We calculate that the total nutritional production of the country for the fiscal year just closed was between 7 per cent, and 9 per cent, below the average of the three previous years, our nutritional surplus for export in those years being about the same amount as the shrinkage last year. Therefore, the consumption and waste in food have been greatly reduced in every direction during the year.

I am sure that all the millions of our people, agricultural as well as urban, who have contributed to these results should feel a very definite satisfaction that, in a year of universal food shortage in the Northern Hemisphere, all of these people joined together against Germany have come through into sight of the coming harvest not only with health and strength fully maintained, but with only temporary periods of hardship. The European Allies have been compelled to sacrifice more than our own people, but we have not failed to load every steamer since the delays of the storm months of last Winter.

Our contributions to this end could not have been accomplished without effort and sacrifice, and it is a matter for further satisfaction that it has been accomplished voluntarily and individually. It is difficult to distinguish between various sections of our people the homes, public eating places, food trades, urban or agricultural populations in assessing credit for these results, but no one will deny the dominant part of the American woman.

July 11, 1918.

© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013



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