Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Authorizing Cooperation With Mexico for the Eradication of the Screwworm.
I HAVE TODAY signed into law a bill which would allow us to join with the Republic of Mexico in a program to eradicate the screwworm, a major livestock pest, from most of North America.
The screwworm maims and kills by infesting wounds on warm-blooded animals. Until recently, it was responsible for losses running as high as $100 million a year to cattlemen in the United States alone.
We now know how to control this pest by breaking the reproductive cycle of the screwworm fly. Through a cooperative program of Federal and State governments and the livestock industry, we have virtually freed the United States of established populations of the insect.
But there are drawbacks to the present method. It costs us nearly $5 million a year to maintain an artificial barrier of 2,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean--and even this does not rid Mexico of the screwworm problem.
Last spring, livestock producers on both sides of the border formally requested our governments to study the feasibility of pushing the defensive barrier against screwworm down to a narrow section of southern Mexico, such as the 140-mile Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Such a barrier--benefiting both nations--could be maintained at a fraction of the present cost.
The legislation I have signed today is actually standby authority to proceed with this plan, should it prove feasible and desirable.
This measure is another example of the spirit of cooperation and warm friendship which exists between the people of Mexico and the United States. With it, we shall demonstrate once again that by working together we can bring great benefits to the people of both our lands.
Note: As enacted, the bill (H.R. 14888) is Public Law 89-521 (80 Stat. 330).
Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Authorizing Cooperation With Mexico for the Eradication of the Screwworm. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/239311