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PARAGRAPH 298 SPICES.
small. The particular result of the imposition of a tariff would be to place the business of importing spices in the hands of the speculators or importers, who are, by the by, unanimously in favor of a tariff and who at the meeting of the committee that recommended the Payne bill made use of the correspondence columns of the New York and other papers in order to influence the matter in their favor. The man who comes directly in contact with the consumer is universally against the imposition of a duty.
A wrong impression seems to prevail that spices are luxuries; they unquestionably were once, when pepper was worth $10 per pound, but spices to-day are not luxuries but are necessities and are consumed by the poor man, or the man in moderate circumstances, in much greater proportion than they are by the wealthy.
In the olden times, in this section of the country anyway, the average woman knew nothing in regard to preparing a meal for her men excepting roast meats or fried meats; among the middle class it was roast beef or porterhouse steak; that was all. A man told me recently that his wife knew nothing excepting to roast beef and to broil porterhouse steak, and he really couldn't afford either.
Through the medium of the Grange meetings, civic centers, cooking schools, magazines, women's journals, etc., and the influx of a large and wise foreign population in some districts, the general use of spices has become known more and more and to-day the woman of economy, or the woman of moderate means, will select the coarser cuts of meat, many times the very coarsest and cheapest, cook it until it is tender,and by the use of spices and savories of one kind or another, makes it palatable and not only palatable, but many times delicious.
The use of spices is one of the methods that are used to help decrease the actual cost of living and it seems to me that it would be a crime to impose an additional tax upon the pocketbook of the poor, or of the middle class, upon an article that they are using manifestly for this purpose and in greater quantities every year.
The fact of this is proven by the growth of the use of certain condiments; for instance, the milder forms of red pepper; districts that never heard of it 20 years ago, absorb it by the ton, and this not alone in the foreign communities, but very largely among the native people. I am speaking for the sections with which I am familiar and what is true of this is true of all spices.
An additional tax upon spices would afford the Government but a comparatively trifling increased income and would decidedly be a tax upon the “breakfast table, upon the "dinner pail,” and would increase the cost of living, which I understand it is the desire of the committee to cut down.
There is no Italian who goes and buys his 2 cents' worth of ham sausage which isn't made palatable by the use of spices. There are none of the cheaper articles of meat foods that are offered-sausages in all varieties, Hamburg steaks, etc.--that are not made palatable and possible by the use of spices.
The sale of spices, from force of custom and as a result of the pure-food laws, has grown to a point where a package of spices is sold for a piece of money. They are almost invariably 5-cent packages and 10-cent packages.
The stringent requirements of the pure-food laws makes the use of packages necessary to prevent contamination, and the manufacturer has to give a considerable down-weight to provide against any possible shrinkage and loss of weight.
The goods are required to be inspected, analyzed, and a complete record kept of them. The better grades of spices, packed in the cheapest form, are packed in pasteboard cartons, lined with what is supposed to be an airproof bag, carefully analyzed, weighed, and packed in packages.
The margin to the manufacturer after the grinding loss and packing is exceedingly small. In order to have a margin on such an article as pepper, it has to be handled in enormous quantities and packed in enormous quantities.
This concern is only one of many in the spice business. We have thousands of dollars' worth of labels and cartons for spices, etc., all of them marked with the quantity that they are supposed to contain, to sell for 5-cent and for 10-cent packages, and they are the packages that the house wife of the United States expects to get for that amount of money. An increase of duty would increase the price or decrease the quantity, and we are quite sure it would be heard from with a most respectable protest from all quarters of the land.
The cartons, labels, etc., that the various manufacturers have on hand there would be practically no recourse for; they would be destroyed. The manufacturer is forced in many States to place the weights on his labels and packages, and the average manufacturer desires to keep in touch with the desires of the officers of the food control, knowing that eventually they will be made law; and as it seems to be the desire of the officers of the food control to have the manufacturer place the weights on his labels
PARAGRAPH 298 SPICES.
and cartons, it is usually done, and if the Government destroys these labels and cartons we believe it would destroy hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of property, and for what purpose?
I am anxious to have you read my letter and for that reason do not desire to go to any great length, but I want to say that in the chili kitchens, which have been established throughout the country, particularly in the West, where chili con carne is sold, the cheapest cuts of beef are used, cooked until tender, and highly spiced.
The cheaper restaurants are selling goulash, and I am very happy to say that the average woman who has come to this country in comparative ignorance is learning to use the cheaper meats and make them appetizing and attractive by the use of the cheap condiments which can be obtained.
Should the committee desire any information that it is in my power to give them, I shall be glad indeed to have them call upon me, and I beg to close by entering my most emphatic protest against a tax being imposed upon the crude material of mustard or upon the crude material of spices, because it would absolutely destroy a growing export business on mustard and it would interfere with what has grown to be one of the minor industries here and which has considerable possibilities, and it would be a tax upon the tables of the people who are earnestly working and seeking to decrease the present cost of their table and of liviog.
The meats, sausages, deviled hams, etc., that are exported by the manufacturing houses of this country are made palatable and appetizing by the use of spices. Cheap spices have assisted in building a very large business upon these manufactured products, and it is very possible that an increase in the cost of these materials would interfere very considerably with the export business on these lines.
From every standpoint a change in the present conditions would appear to be objectionable and a damage to many interests as well as to the consumer, and the benefit to be obtained from a duty would be exceedingly small.
In confirmation of what I have already written, and in addition to what the magazines, cooking schools, etc., are doing, I beg to call your attention to the publications issued by the United States Agricultural Department, intended to assist in the economies of the household. Farmers' Bulletin No.375 entitled, “The Care of Food in the Home." Farmers' Bulletin No. 34, entitled, “Meat Composition and Cooking. Farmers' Bulletin No. 142, entitled "The Principles of Nutrition and Nutritive Value of Food.” In addition to this, No. 391, entitled "The Economical Use of Meats in the House."
These are all advocating the use of the cheaper cuts and No. 391, by the means of recipes, shows how by the use of condiments, spices, etc., these savory and economical dishes of meats can be prepared.
There is no question but that the increased use of spices and condiments tends to decrease the cost of the poor man's table, all tending toward the betterment and a lower cost of living. Is it wise, now that these ways have been found, to place a tax upon them and to increase the cost to the consumer of an article that is helping him in the path to economy? Very respectfully, yours,
Geo. J. FRENCH, President. P. S.-Under the existing conditions we have built quite a considerable export business upon ground spices into Canada, and that against a preferential duty in favor of Great Britain. Of course, any duty upon the crude material would ruin this busiDess; would wipe it off the map.
PROTESTS AGAINST ADDITIONAL TAXES ON SPICES.
DAYTON, OHIO, January 14, 1913. Hon. Oscar W. UNDERWOOD,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: We respectfully inclose herein copy of brief prepared by the American Spice Trade Association, protesting against the changing of method of tariff on whole and ground spices. At present whole spices are free, while ground spices have a duty of 3 cents per pound levied on same.
We believe it would be opposed to the interest of the American consumer if addi. tional taxes were placed on spices, and we know it would operate to the disadvantage of every manufacturer, jobber, and retail grocer if more levies were made on these items of daily need, whereas the amount of revenue produced would be negligible.
Sincerely hoping you can consistently oppose this proposition and assuring you we will greatly appreciate any effort you make in this direction, we remain, Yours, truly,
CANBY, ACH & CANBY Co.
A. H. PERFECT & Co.,
Fort Wayne, Ind., January 25, 1913. Hon. Oscar UNDERWOOD, Chairman Ways and Means Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR MR. UNDERWOOD: We wish to enter our protest against the addition of a 3 cents per pound duty on spices. We believe it is simply the addition of duty on the necessities of life, which is, as we understand it, one of the things we want to get away from and add it on things that are luxuries. This is one of the things that enters into the home life of every family in the land, and it is considered one nf the actual necessities, as much as any other food, and we believe in place of adding it onto this necessity that it should be added onto something else. We do not see any difference between leaving it on those things which already bear a duty than it is to add it onto something that hasn't been bearing a duty which is as much a necessity of life as the items that are in contemplation, and we would be very glad, indeed, to see that it is not put on. Yours, truly,
A. H. PERFECT & Co., By A. H. PERFECT.
STATEMENT BY CHAS. E. ARMSTRONG, NEW YORK, N. Y.
New YORK, January 14, 1913. Hon. Oscar W. UNDERWOOD, Chairman Ways and Means Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. DEAR SIR: It has been called to my attention that a clique of operators or gamblers are advocating a duty on whole spices for their own selfish motives by fostering an advance in price in order to put up prices, sell out, and make a large profit for themselves.
It is for this reason I am writing you in order to ascertain if such atrocities and mode of legislation can be brought about for the benefit of a few operators and gamblers, whereas the public and general trade at large are unalterably opposed to any duty whatsoever, and in lieu of such facts, I now take the liberty of calling upon your good self to ascertain if there is any likelihood or possibility of such a deal going through in its present form relative to spices. You can see by the head lines of this letter that I am engaged in the importation of these articles, and doing almost exclusively the export business.
In the event of such a tariff this branch of the business will be drawn to other countries, namely, England and Germany, presumably Liverpool, London, Hamburg, Bremen, and Holland, which figure largely in the spice trade, and not being hampered with any imposition of duties, they can supply these commodities in whatever size package or style that is required or wanted for the export trade.
Of course, you can readily understand that spices not being a commodity that are sold in large quantities, the orders are invariably for small or broken package lots, whereas if this duty is imposed these articles of spices can only be exported from New York in the original packages that they are imported from the country of origin, Therefore, it is an easy matter for you to see how the export trade will be affected, practically drawing the business from the port of New York to foreign countries. As the percentage of profits on spices without duty is so small that in the event of a duty being imposed they can only be withdrawn for export “in bond," and as the expense of such an operation is great, it would kill the business.
At present it is less expensive to bring the goods into my private warehouse and distribute from there, as these goods arrive from several countries on different steamship lines, and must be repacked and taken to the various piers in the city. In the event of a tariff I would be compelled to place them in the nearest bonded warehouse, and the expense of accumulating these different articles to make a shipment would be so enormous that it would eat up all the profits and kill the business. If the prices were increased to a higher level of valuation it would be impossible to meet the competition of the foreign countries.
I write you at length so you can readily understand my position, and should it be in your power to be of any assistance to me in this matter and bring any opposition to bear it would certain y be of great service to me.
Thanking you in advance for your kindly efforts and attention in this matter, I remain, dear sir, Yours, very truly
CHAS. E. ARMSTRONG.
PARAGRAPH 298 SPICES.
STATEMENT REGARDING RETAIL PRICES OF SPICES.
THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF RETAIL GROCERS
OF THE UNITED STATES,
Cleveland, January 11, 1913. Hon. OSCAR W. UNDERWOOD, Chairman Ways and Means Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. HONORABLE SIR: I notice that at the hearing before your committee a few days ago that Mr. W. J. Gibson of New York appeared for and argued a duty on spices, placing them in the catalogue of luxuries. Spices is something which enters into the living of almost every person in the United States. I sincerely hope, Mr. Underwood, that you will consider our position in the matter. We have done all in our power to promote pure food laws and to put the law into execution.
I am somewhat surprised to note that the gentleman said that grocers charge the consumer from four to ten times what they cost. This statement is not true. I do not hesitate as representative of the retail grocers and one who has spent 30 years behind a counter to deny this statement. I do not know why spices have been placed in the chemical schedule. There is nothing that enters into the house as a table necessity as do spices. They can not in any way that I can think of be termed luxuries.
There are a great many men employed in the grinding of spices in this country at much better wages than those paid in foreign countries and the spices that are ground here conform to the national pure food law, while it is a question whether damaged or wormy spices if ground and shipped here could be detected.
It would seem to me that in case the proposed duty is imposed that it would naturally raise the price of many articles in which spices play a very prominent part.
Hoping that I have not imposed on you in presenting this statement in behalf of the merchants I represent, I beg to remain, Yours, truly,
JOHN A. GREEN, Secretary.
LETTERS OF THE STROHMEYER & ARPE CO., NEW YORK, N. Y.
New York, November 20, 1912. Hon. OSCAR W. UNDERWOOD, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee,
Washington, D. C. Sir: In addition to the articles mentioned in the inclosed letter, we beg to call your attention also to another article of which quite large quantities are imported. Spanish pimientos or Spanish red peppers in cans. Under the present tariff they pay an an valorem duty of 40 per cent, and there is continuous trouble as to the exact value of these goods, on account of the peculiar trade conditions prevailing in Spain. These peppers are vegetables the same as peas and beans and mushrooms, which are all paying a specific duty of 21 cents per pound gross, and we strongly recommend to change the duty on those peppers from an ad valorem to a specific duty, probably the same as on beans and peas in cans.
We also beg to say that we do not recommend a lower duty than these goods pay at present, because they are used by the wealthy class only and can very well afford to pay the present rate of duty.
Again thanking you for your kind consideration, we remain, dear sir, most respectfully, yours,
STROHMEYER & ARPE Co.,
New YORK, November 20, 1912. Hon. Oscar W. UNDERWOOD, Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee,
Washington, D. C. SIR: As the revision of the tariff will be under your control and supervision, we take the liberty of pointing out a few inconsistencies in the present tariff which we beg you may kindly take under consideration. We do not ask for a lower tax, but merely for
PARAGRAPH 298 SPICES.
revision of the tariff on a few of our lines, so as to save a lot of trouble to the importing merchants and to the officials who have charge of the collection of the taxes. So for instance
Beans under the present tariff pay a specific duty of three-fourths of 1 cent per pound. Under the heading of "Beans” belongs a certain kind of beans imported from Italy and called lupini, and the tariff especially provides for a duty of 20 per cent on lupini.
Another article which belongs under the heading of "beans" or "peas” is an article imported principally from Germany and called
Lentils. The present tariff provides a duty of 25 per cent for lentils. Prices for both lupini as well as for lentiss vary daily, and very often several times daily, and under the old tariff there has been continual litigation and a difference of opinion in regard to the value of these goods, which are handled on 'change where prices vary according to supply and demand. We would respectfully ask that both lupini as well as lentils be put either under the heading of “beans" or "peas," as you may see fit, and that a specific duty the same as on beans or peas may be applied to these articles.
Another instance where ad valorem duties create a lot of trouble and inconvenience to both importers and the appraisers are, for instance:
Tomatoes, as well as artichokes, caponata, and several other vegetables, which are imported principally from Italy and Spain. Canned pear and beans pay, under the present tariff, a specific duty of 21 cents per pound, the weight of the cans included, while the duty on tomatoes and tomato sauce, etc., under the present tariff is 40 per cent ad valorem. Beans and peas, as well as tomatoes and tomato sauce, are vegetables. The prices in the primary markets for these goods vary very often daily, and it is a matter of almost impossibility to get the vaiue absolutely correct. Doing away with these ad valorem duties on these articles and putting them under the heading of specific duties, no matter which, would be a blessing for both importers and appraisers.
Another article which, in our opinion, is unjustly taxed, is:
Under the present tariff a tin of sardines containing less than 74 cubic inches pays a duty of $1.50 per case of 100 tins. There are lots of tins imported which contain only about 34 cubic inches, and no special provision made for this size of tin a duty of $1.50 is assessed, the same as on the larger tins. Just those small tins are used almost exclusively by the poor of this country. They buy them for luncheon purposes. There is absolutely nothing made in this country that can compete with these small tins, because this country does not produce the same kind of fish.
We believe that it would be only just to apply a lower rate of duty to those small tins, at least a duty in proportion to the amount of cubic inches which the tin may hold.
These are small matters which, probably do not amount to much; but at the same time we trust that you will consider that they deserve your kind attention.
The writer of this, our Mr. Gustave Porges, shall be very pleased, indeed, to give you such information at you may desire on the above-mentioned articles and any other article in our particular line. Our firm has been for a great many years one of the largest importers of preserved foods from European countries.
Thanking you in advance for your kind consideration, we beg to remain, dear sir, most respectfully, yours,
STROHMEYER & ARPE Co.,
EXCESSIVE TARIFF ON MUSTARD.
NEW YORK, December 24, 1912. Hon. OSCAR W. UNDERWOOD,
Chairman of Ways and Means Committee, Washington, D. C. DEAR Sır: In view of the proposed tariff revision, we would respectfully call your attention to an item in the agricultural list, namely, mustard, on which we consider the present tariff excessive, same being 10 cents per pound.
We import quite some mustard from France in small crocks, the French value of which is $1.50 per case of two dozen crocks. The net weight of the mustard contained in the two dozen crocks is equivalent to about 44 pounds, making the duty 45 cents, or almost one-third.