Preserving "A Fair Chance For a Free People" - Karl E. Mundt

Buy American Bill

The Buy American Farm Products in America Bill was introduced by Karl E. Mundt on May 15, 1939. According to the bill that was introduced in the House, it was intended to help farmers by keeping the government from purchasing foreign goods over American goods. In the bill, it states, "it shall be the duty of all Government departments, bureaus, boards, and all other Government agencies buying food supplies from money provided through the United States Treasury to buy all of these food supplies from farmers and other producers of the United States, provided these supplies are raised in the United States and provided sufficient American products are available to supply the demands of the Government." 1

Below are newspaper clippings from the time that Mundt was trying to get the bill passed in Congress.


In the House of Representatives a bill was passed that would allow the importation of Argentine beef into the US that would in effect increase a "good neighbor" policy with Latin America.

"President Roosevelt's proposal to purchase Argentine corned beef for the navy is a move to force senate ratification and is "too high a price to pay to appease that country," western house members said Monday. Both the Republican and Democrat parties joined together in disapproval of the plan.2

House Senate in Uproar Over Argentine Beef

Buy American

A protest was made on the House floor when eleven representatives, democrats and republicans assailed the President's actions on the Argentinean beef purchase and called for a "Buy American" program. A general statue of 1933 was made that states "Buy American" must be implemented on all supplies used by the Government, except where prices are unreasonably high or it is not in the public interest to buy in the US, where there is an emergency. President Roosevelt directed the State Department to purchase 48,000 pounds of Argentine canned beef. He said it was superior to American beef and the price--15 cents a pound including 6 cents duty--compared with 23 cents bid by domestic packers. Karl Mundt, representative from South Dakota, introduced the "Buy American farm products" bill and representative Leo Allen of Illinois, presented a resolution to have Speaker Bankhead name a special House committee of five to investigate proposed purchase of Argentine beef for the Navy. This resolution would also request the Secretary of the Navy to halt the purchase pending the House inquiry. 3

Seeks Speedy Action On 'Buy American' Bill

Washington, D. C.— (P) Representative Karl Mundt, South Dakota Republican, has asked the House agriculture committee to hold early hearings on his "Buy American farm Products in America"" bill, which he introduced while resentment of naval purchases of Argentine corned beef was at its height.

"With our American producers receiving today's ruinous prices for the products of the farm," he said in a letter to Chairman Jones, Texas Democrat, "I am sure you agree with me that we must leave no stone unturned in an effort to provide them with wider markets and better prices.4

Good Economics

Buy American

"It is good economics to reason that anything which increases the demand for American farm products will also work to increase the prices our farmers receive for these products. To that end both the government and private research agencies are striving through chemistry and through revised manufacturing processes to open up new uses for American farm products which will give additional jobs to American workmen and additional income to American Farmers.4

New Markets

"I am heartily in favor of this attempt to develop new markets for the products of our farms and I feel confident that it also meets with your favor and support." "If it is wise, and I think it is, to spend government money in research to open new markets for our farm products, I believe it is equally wise to take every precaution to farm the existing markets for our farm products so that American farmers can enjoy the increased prices which will come to them if they are protected in what I believe to be their right to supply these markets.4

Require Purchase

"My 'Buy American Farm Products in America' act would do precisely that insofar of government purchases of farm products are concerned. It would require the federal government, which uses tax money collected in part from our farmers, to use this tax money in purchasing American-raised farm products wherever they are available in quantities sufficient to meet the needs of the government. "It is so obviously not only bad economics but also gross injustice to American farmers to have their own government encouraging and stimulating their foreign competitors that I feel your committee will make a favorable report on my bill." Mundt said both Republicans and Democrats in the House had assured him they would support this bill if the committee reported it.4

  1. United States. Cong. House. 76th Cong., 1st sess. H.R.6329 15 May, 1939.
  2. "West Solons Join Against Navy Purchase." Reno Nev. State Journal 16 May, 1939
  3. Hachten, Arthur. "House, Senate in Uproar over Argentine Beef." Washington D.C. Post 16 May, 1936
  4. "Mundt Seeks Speedy Action on 'Buy American' Bill." Mitchell Republic 24 April, 1939
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