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Brief OF MR. G. HANSEN, REPRESENTING THE Russian CAVIAR Co., New YORK
New York, N. Y., January 10, 1913. The WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE,
Washington, D. C. GENTLEMEN: In reference to the proposed tariff revision paragraph 270 we, the undersigned, citizens of the United States and wholesale merchants transacting business in the city of New York, respectfully call your attention to the following facts, as appertaining to the foregoing paragraph and its proposed revision:
We deal in both American and imported caviar, and are importers of the latter. We are unanimously in favor of changing the present duty on caviar from an ad valorem duty to a specific duty.
It is, in our opinion, almost impossible for an appraiser in the city of New York to state with any certainty the value of caviar imported, so that an ad valorem duty can be properly fixed. This is due to the fact that it requires long knowledge and experience as regards this article of commerce to enable one to fix the value thereof; but, in addition to this, the examiner must have definite information as to the price paid therefor. As imported caviar is purchased at various places, it is practically impossible to obtain authentic authority as to the value of any particular shipment or any reliable information thereon. The examiner would have to depend entirely on the invoice of the importer and his own knowledge gained in the course of business.
The foregoing state of facts has caused dissatisfaction, on the part of the importers, with the values as fixed by the examiner and it will continue to do so. We believe the only means of avoiding the same in the future will be to place a specific duty per pound on this article.
We respectfully suggest that the duty on caviar be placed at not more than 20 cents per pound. But a few years ago, only a small amount of caviar was imported into this country on account of the prevalence of the American sturgeon. Large amounts were exported, but this led to the practical extermination of the fish in American waters, so that the amount of domestic caviar consumed is inconsiderable when compared to the amount imported by the United States. For this reason and owing to the comparative scarcity of the European roe, due to a variety of causes, including that of a closed season, a large increase in price of the imported roe has taken place.
With the present duty of 30 per cent ad valorem added to the price paid for this article abroad, the cost to the American consumer is so large that it has caused a large decrease in its importation by us.
We firmly believe that a reduced specific duty, whereby the cost to the consumer is lowered, will cause larger quantities to be imported and consumed and thus more than make up the difference resulting from the reduction of the duty and that, in the end, there will be no loss but rather a gain in revenue to the United States.
We again respectfully suggest a specific duty of not more than 20 cents per pound.
HANSEN & DIECKMANN.
BRIEF OF SCHMIDT & CO., RELATIVE TO CAVIAR.
NEW YORK, January 17, 1919. Hon. Oscar W. UNDERWOOD,
Chairman Ways and Means Committee, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: We beg to submit the following to you in connection with your consideration of the tariff on caviar, paragraph 270:
As the entire revenue derived from caviar-one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods known--is only $50,349, we can not very well advocate a great reduction of tariff. Neither can we admit that the retention of the present tariff of 30 per cent ad valorem would be justifiable on the plea of protection for home industry or as a stimulus for added home production. Due to the extinction of sturgeon, principally on account of the nonenforcement of the conservation laws of various States, the domestic production has decreased yearly from the time, 25 years ago, when it could be profitably exported to Germany, etc., at 15 cents a pound, to the present time, when it is difficult to procure at $1.80 per pound. We estimate that the present domestic production will not exceed 40,000 pounds a year.
What we do urge, however, upon your committee is the substitution of a specific duty for the present ad valorem one. We would recommend a specific duty of 20 to
25 cents per pound, which rate we think would be fair to both the Government and the consumer. If the catch of sturgeon in Russia this year is anywhere normal, we estimate that the importation of caviar will be increased to 200,000 to 250,000 pounds. At the above rate this will give the Government an increased revenue from this source.
A specific duty is advisable also in view of the fact that it would eliminate unintentional undervaluation on the part of the importer and disputes with the examiners and appraisers as to the foreign value of the article.
Foreign values are regulated by the supply; an excessive catch lowers the price while a small catch makes prices higher. The demand is always there. Last
year the catch was normal and prices fair until the United States Government decided that caviar preserved with hexamenthelentetramin-a dissolute of formaldehyde-could not be imported as it was contrary to the provisions of the pure food act. In consequence the price of caviar preserved with salt only, for which we made contracts early in the season, was considerably advanced and when our importations arrived the duty was assessed on a value of 25 per cent higher than we actually paid, causing us in one instance to be penalized for undervaluation. A specific duty would have eliminated this disagreeable situation. It would also dispose of the Treasury decision that 1.50 marks per kilo must be added to the foreign value of Russian caviar if it passes through Germany and is exported from a German port.
In view of the above stated disadvantages of ad valorem duty we therefore urge a specific duty no matter how high your committee decides to make the rate.
Appended hereto you will find a schedule showing the number of pounds of domestic caviar purchased by us as well as the data regarding imports of caviar into the United States. We are considered the largest packers of salted caviar, and estimate that we handle about two thirds of the entire domestic production. The only official figures we have at our disposal to prove our contention, are those compiled by the Department of Commerce and Labor, Bureau of Census, 1908, in which the production is given as 79,000 pounds.
We desire to place ourselves at your entire disposal regarding any further information you require on this subject. Yours, very truly,
S. SCHMIDT & Co.
New York, January 1913. Hon. Oscar W. UNDERWOOD, Chairman Ways and Means Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: This material under the present tariff is dutiable under paragraph No. 270 at 30 per cent ad valorem. Caviar is the roe of sturgeon, which is a fish which is nearly extinct in this country, and the annual production of caviar in this country hardly reaches 2,000 pounds and is decreasing from year to year. Imports of caviar during the past years have ranged between 100,000 to 150,000 pounds per annum, so that it clearly can be seen that the domestic production of caviar is only between 14 to 2 per cent of the total consumption of this country.
This proves beyond a doubt that the duty of 30 per cent on this material does not protect any home industry, neither is it a stimulus for added domestic production, for it is absolutely impossible to produce any greater quantity of domestic caviar than is being produced to-day, and as already stated above, the production of this country will decrease from year to year. Caviar is one of the healthiest and most nutritious foods known, but a duty of 30 per cent places this material in the class of luxuries, which are unattainable for the workmen in this country. If the duty on this material could be lowered, it doubtless will be placed within reach of people who can not afford to purchase caviar to-day, and it is very likely that the added consumption of this material will at least partly make up for a decrease in the customs receipts on this material. We should consider that a specific duty of 10 cents per pound on this material, which is equal to a duty of about 10 per cent ad valorem, would be a fair rate of duty to place upon this material. This rate of duty would both be fair to the consumer as well as to the Government, for, taking into consideration that there probably will be quite an increase in the consumption and bring up importations probably to 200,000 to 250,000 pounds per annum, this Government would collect a revenue at the rate of duty of 10 cents per pound of between $20,000 to $25,000 on the annual importations against $50,349.69 collected during the year ending June 30, 1911.
If there is any further information which we can give or if you should care to have me appear in person before the Ways and Means Committee, I shall be at your disposal. Very truly, yours,
S. SCHMIDT & Co.,
Fresh-water fish not specially provided for in this section, one-fourth of
Herrings, pickled or salted, smoked or kippered, one-half of one cent per pound; herrings, fresh, one-fourth of one cent per pound; eels and smelts,
fresh or frozen, three-fourths of one cent per pound. See also Harvey & Outerbridge, page 2828.
BRIEF OF NEW YORK FIRMS.
New YORK, January 9, 1913. Hon. 0. W. UNDERWOOD,
Chairman Committee on Ways and Means, Washington, D. C. Sir: Referring to revision of the present tariff and to Schedule G, covering herrings, pickled or salted, the undersigned respectfully submit the following:
Herrings, pickled or salted.- As per paragraph 272 under the present tariff herrings, pickled or salted, are dutiable at one-half of 1 cent per pound.”
We earnestly request an alteration of the above paragraph to the following:
"Herrings, pickled or salted. ---Dutiable at one-fourth of 1 cent per pound gross weight of package.”
The principal reasons for the above-requested alteration of the tariff are set forth as follows:
Under the present ruling, to obtain the actual net weight of the fish free from salt and brine, it is necessary for the United States weighers to remove these fish from the barrels and place them in wicker baskets, from which the pickle drains off prior to their being weighed.
This procedure results in a monetary loss to the importers, as the fish are damaged in handling, and a good portion of the pickle and natural oils exuded by the action of this pickle and brine is lost.
The men employed as assistants to the United States weighers have not the time nor are they possessed of sufficient skill to iepack these barrels in a proper manner so that they retain their original value. These delicate fish are subjected to rough handling, and when carelessly replaced in the packages, which are lacking of the original proportion of brine and pickle, deterioration of the quality rapidly takes place.
This is particularly noticeable in warm weather, as the heat quickly affects the condition of the fish if removed from the barrels even for a short period, and during this season of the year they should be kept thoroughly immersed in pickle.
To overcome this needless loss in value we have submitted for your consideration the above revision of the present tariff.
The Government would save considerably in the cost of labor necessary under the present method of weighing these fish, and the difference in revenue to the United States Treasury would be compensated by the benefit to the ultimate consumer derived from the lower cost of this food and the improved quality.
There would be a saving to the importers in the fact that the fish in these barrels would be allowed to remain in their proper condition, and thereby no loss would be entailed.
Also, this revenue would not be materially changed, as the reduction would be offset by the increased weights on which duty would be paid. Respectfully submitted.
Menzel & Co., Meyer (ange, Alex Roberts & Co., Wm. Haaker Co., Schlecht
Klie & Co., J. Sheckenzin Co., Max Ams (Inc.), Rasenstein Bros. (Inc.), The Empire Import Herring Co., Morris Chaving, treasurer; Joseph Vedootzky & Son, Louis Meyer Trading Co., Maxblock; Charles F. Mattlage & Sons, Thomas Stokes Son, R. C. Williams & Co., Francis H. Leggett & Co., Austin Nichols & Co. (Inc.), W. W. McCarthy, treasurer; Strohmeyer & Arpe Co., E. Strohmeyer, president; Thos. Woodward & Son, S. Schmidt & Co., F. W. Schmidt, president (the above are all New York merchants); S. Sklarofsson, Philadelphia, Pa.; M. A. Schwartz, Philadelphia, Pa.
PARAGRAPH 273-FISH, SMOKED, FROZEN, ETC. PARAGRAPH 273.
Fish, fresh, smoked, dried, salted, pickled, frozen, packed in ice or otherwise prepared for preservation, not specially provided for in this section, three-fourths of one cent per pound; fish, skinned or boned, one and onefourth cents per pound; mackerel, halibut, or salmon, fresh, pickled, or salted, one cent per pound. For fresh and smoked fish, etc., see also Harvey & Outerbridge, page 2828.
FISH, SMOKED, FROZEN, ETC.
STATEMENT OF HON. AUGUSTUS P. GARDNER,
Mr. GARDNER. I am going to discuss especially the fish products embraced in paragraph 273. Fish, fresh, smoked, frozen, packed in ice, or otherwise prepared by preservation, carry a duty of threequarters of a cent per pound, while fish, skinned or boned, carry a duty of 14 cents a pound. Cod or haddock, for instance, that come into Gloucester, imported from a foreign country, pay a duty of three-quarters of a cent a pound. In Gloucester the bones are extracted from the fish, the fins and tails are cut off, the fish are cleaned and cut down the back, and then are packed for market. If, however, this skinning and boning process takes place before the fish is imported, then the product pays a duty of 14 cents a pound. In Gloucester there are two somewhat divergent interests involved in this question. On the one hand, there are the independent owners, firms, and fishermen, who make a business of catching fish. In entire sympathy with their views are the riggers, the sailmakers, the anchor makers, and persons engaged in the work of repairing vessels. All those people whom I have mentioned strongly protest against any reduction of the duty on fish, whether green or manufactured.
On the other hand, the owners and workmen of packing concerns which bone and skin the fish which other people have caught find themselves with a somewhat different interest to sustain, although they all stand together in asking for the retention of the present duties.
Some firms catch fish and pack them also. Some only engage in catching, and some only engage in packing. Some firms not only catch but pack and sell, and one gentleman present catches, packs, and sells both at wholesale and retail.
It is not surprising that a division of opinion should exist between the men who bone fish and do nothing else and the men who catch fish and do nothing else. For instance, I shall present to you Capt. Ross, who will speak for the master mariners. The master mariners are engaged in catching fish, but not in packing them.
On the other hand, I shall present to you a representative of the fish skinners, cutters, trimmers, and pressmen's union, which is engaged in handling fish after they are landed. The different interests are all agreed in favor of a duty on fish, but the men who catch fish feel somewhat differently about the duty on the raw material. It is natural that the men who handle fish, provided they can maintain the duty on their finished product, should be less solicitous about the duty on the raw material. I, who represent all parties, am in PARAGRAPH 273_FISH, SMOKED, FROZEN, ETC. favor of the retention of the fish schedule exactly as it is, from end to end, except that I should like to see shellfish removed from the free list. However, I know it is useless to ask you gentlemen for that. Now, there are three separate bodies represented here. There are three gentlemen representing the Gloucester Board of Trade, and there are three gentlemen who were appointed at a joint meeting of four of the Gloucester unions, to wit, the riggers' union, the teamsters' union, the fishworkers' union (which is a women's union), and the fish skinners, cutters, trimmers, and pressmen's union. In addition, there is Capt. Norman Ross, who represents still a third element, to wit, the Master Mariners' Association.
The CHAIRMAN. Mr. Gardner, you can not put anybody on; the committee recognizes you, but for you to put these witnesses on would be against our rules. The witness has to hand his name in to the clerk and he will be called when he is reached.
Mr. GARDNER. I did not mean to say that I was going to examine them. I should yield my place to them.
The CHAIRMAN. But that is against our rules, Mr. Gardner. Mr. GARDNER. But, if the chairman will recollect, in my letter to him I laid out this line of action.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, I will say, Mr. Gardner, that no doubt I got your letter, but I have been so overwhelmed by letters that my clerk can not even acknowledge receipt of them.
Mr. GARDNER. I understand.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, the committee would be glad to accommodate you, but we have here a number of gentlemen. We have been sitting here for two or three days, and I can not let you put on these witnesses now.
Mr. GARDNER. Let me invite the chairman's attention to what was done. I was assigned from 11.55 to 12.20 by your committee, and I assumed that I could dispose of that 25 minutes as I chose.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, I will say to you, Mr. Gardner, that all I am trying to do is to take care of these witnesses. Now, that assignment was made by the clerk, and he sent out the notice. Since that time the committee has adopted, in order to dispose of the business, a rule allowing each witness 10 minutes. Of course sometimes more time is conceded by the committee, and I am sure they would be glad to yield to you personally, but if we were to yield to all of these witnesses that you suggest
Mr. GARDNER. I have no intention of putting on so many. I realized that I should probably be held very nearly to my 25 minutes, but I had not been notified that the system had been changed, and meanwhile I notified the Gloucester Board of Trade and other persons in Gloucester that our committee would be heard from 11.55 to 12.20 to-day, and it surely was not my fault.
The CHAIRMAN. Well, I am sure it was not, but, as a matter of fact, I did not know about it myself.
Mr. McCall. These witnesses here came on especially from Gloucester, did they?
Mr. GARDNER. Precisely.
Mr. McCall. Then, it seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that inasmuch as Mr. Gardner is entitled to certain time, and in view of the fact that