Letter, J.M. Williams to C.D. Newburn regarding black markets, 1943

Letter, J.M. Williams to C.D. Newburn regarding black markets, 1943


Food Distribution Administration
204 Dyal-Upchurch Building
Jacksonville, Florida

June 1, 1943

Mr. C. D. Newburn, Chairman
Hernando County Food Advisory Committee
Brooksville, Florida

Dear Mr. Newburn:

A principal policy of the Department of Agriculture always has been to encourage the American way – a fair share of nutritious food for everybody. Lately this objective has received a crushing blow in the illegal traffic in meats; a black market which is snatching meat from the mouths of our fighting men and Allies. Those engaged in this shady and unpatriotic business are cutting sharply into the legitimate channels of livestock. Operating on a tremendous scale, they are like giant blood suckers, draining off the life blood of food supply.

As Secretary Wickard pointed out the other day, “Potentially the black markets represent not only lawlessness, but a threat to one of our most vital weapons of war. A waste of our food resources now may prolong the war and will cause the death of thousands upon thousands of American boys.”

Black marketeers in meat include several types of lawbreakers. There is the small-town racketeer who slaughters more cattle or hogs than permitted under Government regulations, and who sells this meat to dealers and others who are willing to pay above market prices.

Then, there is the big operator, usually in our larger cities, who sells meats to butchers for prices higher than those permitted by the ceilings of the Office of Price Administration. Also, a few unscrupulous whole-salers and retailers up-grade meats they have bought in the black market and gouge the increased cost out of consumers.

Some dealers and farmers unknowingly have become tools of the black market operator, because they do not know the Government regulations and consequently do not realize their mistake. They do not know that since October 1, 1942, their sales of dressed meat from their own slaughter were ordered limited to the same quantities they sold in the corresponding quarter of 1941. Those who did not slaughter and sell meat in 1941 were not permitted to enter the business unless they obtained special quotas. A few farmers have been reported dressing their own meat and selling it for as high a price as the traffic will bear.


State Archives of Florida: Series S419, Box 20, Folder 6


This letter was written by J.M. Williams, State Supervisor of the Food Distribution Administration headquartered in Jacksonville, to C.D. Newburn, Chairman of the Hernando County Food Advisory Committee. The purpose was to encourage Newburn to step up local efforts to curtail the black market in meat. Williams characterizes food as one of the United States' "most vital weapons of war," and asserts that food waste could potentiall prolong the conflict and endanger more American lives. He describes several kinds of waste and misappropriation of meat supplies, including mislabeling, price gouging, ignorance of government meat slaughtering regulations, etc. Williams asks Newburn to enocurage local farmers and other people involved with the meat trade to adopt strategies to curtail the fortunes of the black market.