What every farmer wants to hear – 'Go USA'
July 16th, 2012
12:45 PM ET
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Chefs with Issues is a platform for chefs and farmers we love, fired up for causes about which they're passionate. Craig Rogers is the shepherd and owner of Border Spring Farms in Patrick Springs, Virginia, where he raises and sells “Certified Naturally Grown" and "Animal Welfare Approved" lamb and sheep to acclaimed chefs and natural food stores.

It amazing what can happen when national pride rules the day. Republicans and Democrats - who have made disagreement and paralysis into a spectator sport - came together this week to unanimously condemn outsourcing the production of USA Olympic athletes’ uniforms to factories in China. The result was a quick commitment from the manufacturer that all future USA Olympic uniforms will be made right here at home in the U.S. of A.

National pride is a wonderful thing. But it did not save the United States textile industry or furniture industries decades ago. We have seen American manufacturing jobs leave for cheaper pastures and both presidential candidates agree that saving American manufacturing is a priority.

American farmers have been facing the same issues that American textile, furniture and manufacturing industries have. Along with ranchers, shepherds and fishermen, we have watched as cheap imports infiltrate the market and in some cases overwhelm the market. Seldom do we hear this cry of national pride as it pertains to the outsourcing of American farm jobs.

As Chef Jay Pierce of Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensboro, North Carolina stated in a previous Eatocracy article, “every purchase we make is a political act.” Indeed, each purchase is a vote.

Ideals are easy until you have to pay for them. It is easy to be an advocate for local, sustainable, organic, animal welfare approved, cage-free, pastured-raised, GMO free, bio-dynamic, or a host of other “labels” until you have to open your wallet to pay for them – and that refers to both farmers and consumers. The same is true for supporting “Grown in the U.S.A.”

Americans may be of one voice when it comes to who should make a few hundred USA Olympic athlete uniforms, but where was that chorus when we saw thousands of textile jobs leave the USA? Have the times changed?

American shepherds like me are faced with the reality of Australian lamb that can be slaughtered, processed and shipped 10,000 miles and delivered to a restaurant, cheaper than a live animal is worth in the United States. American shepherds can not compete against the immense number of cheap imported lamb from Australia on price, thus they must do so with quality, freshness, and service. Even so, someone has to pay more for the American lamb. Other US agricultural commodities have similar stories.

Made: In America, a not-for-profit based in Washington D.C. began as an organization devoted to honoring American furniture manufacturers who were being successful in competing against foreign imports. Five years ago they noticed that American farming was following a similar plight to the American furniture industry. On Independence Day in D.C., they honored, for the fourth year, farmers, ranchers, and producers as “National Culinary Treasures” for preserving American farming heritage and having the highest quality to compete with the best the world over.

Chef Nick Stefanelli of Bibiana in Washington, D.C. and chairman of the Culinary Committee for Made: In America says “Made: In America is trying to tell the story of farmers and producers who are trying to compete against cheap foreign imports and in so doing hopefully creating some energy to save an industry and a bit of Americana.”

The solution to saving American farming and fishing, however, rests with everyone who votes with each and every purchase. Voting to support American farmers starts with every food festival and culinary organization which accepts a more lucrative sponsorship from an offshore company or government marketing organization such as Australian Lamb, Canadian Pork, or New Zealand Seafood instead of supporting farmers right here at home. Every chef has a vote with each and every purchase.

But the largest voting block is the consumer. Each consumer and each family must decide if they are going to buy the cheaper imported meat or fish, or pay a bit more to support an American family who hopes that their industry does not continue to be outsourced overseas.

There is much that could be done through legislation, food policy, as well as agricultural and fishing regulations to help American farmers and fishermen, but fundamentally the final arbiter on the future of American enterprise is the consumer; those who vote with each purchase.

As farmers, we can only hope that Presidential candidates, Congress, and all of the people of America will let their national pride floweth over from disdain for USA Olympic uniforms being made in China, to supporting American families working on fishing boats, on produce farms, and livestock ranches.

During the upcoming Olympics, may every chant of “Go USA” for our athletes echo across the “amber waves of grain,” our “fruited plains” and from “sea to shining seas” to the American farmers and fishermen tending those fields, plains, and waters. Farmers need to hear from each of you, “Go USA!”

Previously - Buying food is a political act and No bull - start a conversation with a farmer and Products made in America

soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. c s

    I try to buy local and organic food. The principle reason that so many goods are made in China is because China pursues an economic policy called mercantilism:
    "an economic system developing during the decay of feudalism to unify and increase the power and especially the monetary wealth of a nation by a strict governmental regulation of the entire national economy usually through policies designed to secure an accumulation of bullion, a favorable balance of trade, the development of agriculture and manufactures, and the establishment of foreign trading monopolies " see http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mercantilism

    China does this by having the government set the exchange rate of their currency. Most other countries allow the market to set it. This allows China to sell everything at about a 40% discount. This is the reason that so many American business are being undersold by Chinese business. I went to the grocery store to buy toothpicks and could not find any made in the USA. Making toothpicks is totally automated with very little labor cost. So how could China make and ship toothpicks 12,000 miles and still be cheaper than making them here? As long as China is allowed to set the exchange rate of their currency so low, they will continue to flood the US market. The US should just put a 40% duty upon all Chinese goods and this will at least allow American companies a chance to survive.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • say NO to made in america

      u do realize, if that were to be in effect, ur taxing american companies 40% right?

      b/c all made in china are actually commissioned by american companies, 40% tax on made in china is 40% tax on american companies, who now have to look else where in the world for labor

      guess what, they'll run through the entire list of countries in the united nation before finding american workers, what are you going to do then? tax the world 40%?

      we understand scum american mentality, but i don't think the american occupiers want to do america v. world

      July 27, 2012 at 12:51 am |
    • say NO to made in america

      china is a currency manipulator? for doing what, pegging their currency to the dollar?

      how is that manipulation when all china is doing is keeping united states honest?

      what? only the united states get to devalue their currency through both "legal market operations" and simply plain illegal money printing?

      i mean you do realize the united states has pursued a weak dollar agenda all from the 80-90's right, before scapegoating china started in the 00's

      there's a sequence of event here, pls don't think the world is stupid, united states is fuccked anyway u cut it when u do

      US v. World

      July 27, 2012 at 12:55 am |
  2. Peperosso

    A very large percentage of our food now comes from overseas over 60%, next time you go shopping just look on the labels, on some products the marketing folks replace the country of origin by putting “Distributed by so and so” on the cans, bottles, etc… those products are shipped into the U.S. and then boxed in the U.S. Most of our fruits and vegetables now come from Mexico or further south than that, and most meat comes from either Mexico or Canada.
    We tried to buy only food from the United States but the choices are very limited, now if we don’t have a choice we will buy products from other than China if that product is not available from the U.S. and a lot of the times the entire sector of the product is 100% controlled by China so we do without.
    It’s a pending disaster waiting to happen.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  3. Dale N.M.

    Wall Street continues to export American food produce, to Asia because their currency is stronger.
    “”Food crops are being manipulated”” less acreage being planted to increase price.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  4. pete

    I have 2 young children that drink alot of apple juice. I have a difficult time finding apple juice made from American apples. In fact, much of the apple juice in this country is imported from China. Supposedly, American apples are of a higher quality, so we don’t “waste” them on making juice, whereas Chinese apples taste okay, but they aren’t as aesthetically pleasing, so we make juice with them. The problem is I just don’t trust apples from China. They don’t have the same regulations or quality control we do.

    July 18, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  5. Orion

    First things first... we need to end all farm subsidies period
    Second.. if a sheep can be grown, harvested, packaged, and shipped thousands of miles cheaper than can be bough locally, there's something wrong with that picture.. seems like greed on someone's part
    I'm all about buying local but again, when I can buy something in another state, have it shipped and it still costs less than what I can buy it for at a local store, again.. something wrong.. greed

    July 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  6. Primal 4 Life

    Good, proper, food is worth more so it costs more. I am willing to pay, in fact food is my biggest expense and it should be for everyone.

    July 18, 2012 at 11:59 am |
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      July 18, 2012 at 11:32 am |
  8. Fred Evil

    You love American farmers? Let them grow a CA$H crop! Legalize cannabis, and American farmers will be in the black (or green!) in NO time!
    American Cannabis Aficionados would MUCH rather buy from Farmer John, than Farmer Juan!!

    July 18, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  9. TomC

    "Farmers" do not see the bulk of farm subsidies. "Agribusiness" does. Best thing you can do is find a nearby farm and support the grower directly.

    July 18, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • TomC

      If you want to find a nearby grower, by the way, http://www.localharvest.org/ is a good resource.

      July 18, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • ADiff

      You want to explain what's the difference?

      July 18, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
  10. 3eyedjohnny

    Americans: Land of the economic uneducated and home of the emotional sound bite the can't withstand logic. We're overcharged for sugar because of the Sugar lobbyist. So instead of buying sugar from Dominican Repub we send them "economic aid" instead.
    Wise up. Please for the love of all things holy read Economics in One Lesson and STFU until you have any idea how economics works.

    July 18, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  11. pgh

    at Trader Joe's I can get organic grass fed chemical free ground beef for a LOT cheaper than the grocery store or at Whole Paycheck. If it happens to be from Australia, so what? Maybe farmers in America will start picking up on the fact that most of us WANT to eat beef but we're tired of eating antibiotics, steroids, growth enhancers and hormones with it.

    July 18, 2012 at 9:11 am |
    • Primal 4 Life

      There is plenty of grass fed, pasture finished, beef available in America. It is absolutely worth the extra effort it takes to get it.

      July 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • ADiff

      The things you want may be stupid, but they're what you want. The consumer is King.

      July 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  12. George

    Every time I drive through North Central Georgia and see acres and acres of farm with 5 or 6 stale haybales and a rusty, weed-overgrown tractor on it, a brand-new $50,000 bass boat in the shed and a shiny Mercedes SUV or Cadillac EXT in front of a "farmhouse" right out of Architectural Digest, I wonder how many of my middle-class tax dollars go to subsidize this and my blood boils, especially when I have to fork out $2.99/lb for tomatoes in-season at Kroger, while the green-card Mexicans at the flea market seem to do pretty well selling them for "un dolar por libra, senior." We are our own worst enemy.

    July 18, 2012 at 8:58 am |
    • Orion

      I couldn't agree more!!!! I grew up in a small town and knew some dairy farmers there that were getting several hundred thousand dollars a year in subsidies. They had huge homes, drove cadillaces or top of the line pickups and paid their farm workers min wage only. I looked them up one time on a gov site that lists the amounts given to those people. They were claiming wife, kids, everyone there to get more money. WE paid for all that.. crooks crooks crooks

      July 18, 2012 at 1:58 pm |
    • ADiff

      I had a friend who was a farmer. He used to say it was exhausting, having to get up at the crack of noon and make sure no corn was growing. Tough life.

      July 18, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  13. Vincent A. Demonbreun

    I would love to buy strictly USA but the GMO's in food have me concerned for the America's health.

    July 18, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • Keith

      Monsanto is killing the world

      July 18, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Anna kallio

      Couldn't agree more. Monsanto seems to be harvesting.

      July 18, 2012 at 10:57 am |
    • Anna

      I begin to wonder if all the gluten, corn, and dairy allergies perhaps are not so much an rejection by the immune system of the actual grain etc., but perhaps a rejection to the chemicals that they are sprayed with and that are totally foreign to the body. I am hypersensitive to chlorine and other chemicals, but it was only a problem if I swam in a pool or used toxic cleaning products. While I lived in Europe I had no food allergies, now that I live in the U.S. i'am unable to eat any wheat and corn products nor can I have dairy anymore.

      July 18, 2012 at 11:14 am |
  14. say NO to made in america

    Every american, and at the very least, every Chinese American should stop buying made in USA.

    This nation has been taken hostage by a thug mentality that says China, as much of a slave it already is to the USA, needs to bleed more through the arteries to support the united states.

    Millions of american have jobs AT ALL b/c the US leeches a criminal amount of wealth out of China through made in china. Every dollar spent on made in china has 99 cents going DIRECTLY to american companies' pockets. China is single handedly supporting the welfare of a country that has a gun pointed at the heads of every Chinese citizen. And this is without even counting the trillions of debt that the US has no intention of paying back to China. Precisely why the US screamed foul when China did nothing more than pegs its currency to the dollar. Guess what? When the US manipulate the currency, no other country is allowed to keep the US honest?

    United states shipped off manufacturing jobs b/c they are bottom scrapping jobs that are tailor made for its slaves like the Chinese people.

    Now the US government is lazy to create the high paying jobs the "american workers" demand, and they want to bring back bottom paying manufacturing jobs; does that make any economic sense? The Chinese scapegoats are too easy to milk it seems.

    Follow this example: Went to REI today, saw "made in USA" shirt, Right Back to the shelf it went. B/c that actually cost the american economy, both in terms of the total number of american jobs there are, and in terms of creating the necessary type of jobs for the us citizens.

    It is a shame to support made in USA. It is immoral And unwise.

    If the "american workers" population wants to be patriotic, how bout start by first acting patriotic urself, by cutting ur own insane wages by 90%. Or by acquiring skills that pay orders of magnitudes above ur current pay? B/c that effort is actually worth supporting and follows the original game plan of the US.

    Don't scream patriotism when all you want is to sacrifice the jobs of those US citizens who have a job b/c there is made in china.

    This type of "protectionism", is simply called: communism. Subsidizing ur welfare through that of ur countrymen. Shame on u.

    And at last, the Chinese government MUST, as an upstanding government of Human Rights, Protect the rights of its citizens in their dealings with the united states; the Chinese government MUST, demand that the playing field be LEVELED, so that made in china does not criminally profit only the greedy american companies.

    In fact, all manufacturing nations must band together and demand the same of US companies so that they're no longer working like slaves for the US while acting as their convenient scapegoat.

    July 18, 2012 at 4:28 am |
    • Jay in Florida

      Chinese worker paid for Chinese labor: 35 cents an hour. Chinese worker paid for American job: 1.50 an hour. Your economy in China tripled BECAUSE of American jobs. Now STFU.

      July 18, 2012 at 6:52 am |
      • say NO to made in america

        roflmao don't be scared and tell me to stfu, at what point did you actually refute me?

        b/c if chinese labor get paid $1.50 for selling goods to united states through american companies, that same worker, when the playing field is LEVELED, would earn $10.50 for selling goods to the united states

        go back to school boy

        July 27, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • merkin

      @say NO to made in america... wow. mousey tongue still givin out them red books der hey???

      July 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
      • say NO to made in america

        it's what i learned in tier 1 american law school, not HYS mind u, i wasn't cowardly risk averse with my undergrad curriculum

        bet you didn't know mousey tongue is preached everywhere der did u???

        although i fail to understand why hill billies would expect otherwise, afterall, that's how u got ur arses handed to u down ur throat

        July 27, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  15. capt x

    freedom of choice rules unfortunately in my town there's one grocery store so only choice is what brand of smokes to buy as for choice of food its whats on sale.

    July 17, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
  16. Ann Braswell

    If we are to be encouraged to buy only made in USA food then I don't want farm raised fish, GM vegetables or meat, corn oil, corn products or high fructose guck in almost every US packaged product. I do buy foreign food from a local Asian
    market-green curry, garam masala, and basmati rice-not produced in US.

    July 17, 2012 at 5:58 pm |

    I do buy food from other countries – often some products are not cultivated in the US (Coffee, Tea or Chocolate anyone).

    However, I do not buy food products made in China. After the poison found in pet foods (so as trick lab tests into thinking it had higher protein), I do not buy from the PRC. The US passed food safety laws over 100 years ago and we largely have a safe food system (there are exceptions). I do not believe that China and other 3rd world countries produce safe food products.


    July 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • Cheese Wonton

      Find out how the Chinese feed farm grown catfish and shrimp. It's enough to make you hurl. A hint, they are raised underneath chicken coops. Shrimp fried rice anyone? Ah, didn't think so.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
  18. milton Platt

    What about the flip side of this issue??? What if other countries stopped importing U.S. rice, corn, etc?

    July 17, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • Cheese Wonton

      Why is so much rice, a water intensive crop rivaled only by alfalfa, grown in such great quantities in a state like California that is perenially short of water? Water to rice growers sells for under $100 per acre foot while the same water sold to a city costs $600 – $1000 per acre foot. Your tax money at work folks. Think about that the next time the state tells you to conserve water, restricts lawn watering and car washing. All the while, rice is still being grown in California and alfalfa fields dot the Mojave desert.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • nogomel

      works for me, let them starve!

      July 17, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
  19. Cheese Wonton

    American farmers have been stealing the taxpayers money for the better part of a century, demanding all manner of farm subsidies including subsidized irrigation watet at a fifth of the cost the same water costs to households, to compensate for the miserable management of their farms, relieving them of the necessity to plan ahead and manage their business for profitability. When things go bad, they go hat in hand to Congress and we all get to bail their sorry backsides out.
    Even with all the taxpayer money they receive, they still cannot often compete against foreign suppliers. Don't come crying to me when a foreign farmer undercuts them. Look in the mirror and figure out how to run your farm so you don't have to pick my pocket every year for subsidies.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • donald

      There is a big difference between corporate farms and family farms. Corporate farms = you might as well buy from china, the profits do not go locally they go globally.Family farms = locally grown, $$ stay local, better for local environment etc. When you're talking farm subsidies, you are not talking about family farms. You are talking about massive, 500 + acres, get paid subsidies for corn, grain and such. That DOES NOT HAPPEN with family fruit or veg farms.

      July 18, 2012 at 10:19 am |
      • Dave

        Donald, i grew up on a family farm where it was just me, my dad, and my grandad farming. Used to work 160 acres/DAY and several thousand acres each summer. So your silly comment about factory farms is ridiculous. Farm sizes are not necessarily criteria to determine corporate or family standing. I've known family farms well over 25000 acres and small corporate farms (using the term "local" to pull in suckers) that have just 10 acres. One of the primary reasons farm subsidies have existed over the past 80 years was to provide a safety net to insure this country could provide a sufficient, safe, relatively cheap foodstuffs and not have to rely on having to import them from other countries. Downside is this allows for artificial inflation of the markets in response to supply/demands pulls.

        July 18, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
  20. ComparisonShopper

    I live in the Bay Area, a stone's throw from Gilroy – the garlic capital of the world. So can someone please tell me
    why when I went to buy garlic in my local Safeway it was imported from China? I left it on the shelf and hot footed it elsewhere for local.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:05 pm |
    • Ann Brush

      Because Gilroy cant supply ALL of Safeway's garlic at a price Safeway's shoppers are prepared to pay for it.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  21. Ann Brush

    And we should start by not advocating for expensive bogus welfare / organic / non-migrant labour pickers legislation that pushes our own farmers out of business. Lets really help these folk stay in business.

    July 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • Cheese Wonton

      Is anyone helping you keep your job? Is anyone propping up your business with taxpayer subsidies the way farmers are subsidized? Not likely. The farmers could irrigate whole fields with the crocodile tears they cry, especially in California where the bulk of what is grown comes from huge corporate farms (and yes I know the region around Gilroy and Watsonville very very well). Don't cry for them because they aren't crying for you. They just want more of your tax money each year. That they claim they cannot survive without free money ought to tell you the quality of people you are dealing with.

      July 17, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  22. T.K. Tait

    good article, it would go very well here in Canada where there is the same thing happening, including with cheap government subsidized agricultural items from the U.S. getting shipped and sold here. Hard to believe that a tomatoe shipped from California is cheaper than what is grown 5 kilometres from my house.
    There are certainly items that grow in other countries that we don't have here, and vice versa, but I definitely try to buy Canadian if it is at all possible for items that are common to our country and other countries. ( Potatoes, carrots, meat, etc. )
    I was surprised to see Canadian Pork on the list as cheaper than what is available in the U.S. as most items that are shipped here from south of the border are less expensive than the same item produced here.
    Though the U.S. and Canadian economies are closely tied, one other issue is where the items are made. As an example, when purchasing power tools, I can choose to go to U.S. owned Home depot, Lowes, or Canadian owned Rona, to purchase my chinese made item.
    But pushing buy domestic is not a specifically bad thing. It helps to keep our countries alive and economy going.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  23. Solo

    Farmers are already hearing the "USA" chant – they receive millions of tax breaks and subsidies every year for their farms and we foot the bill.

    July 17, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
  24. JLS639

    Other: I just finished lunch and read the labels on all my foods. All were US-based food companies, but I still have no idea where any of that food was produced. I shop at a store that says they always try to buy local, but it does not label where the food was grown. There are few foods I prepare from scratch, and those are the only ones I can find out where they were grown.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
  25. Myto Senseworth

    Shrimp that has a slight smell of chlorine has been cleaned up to get the bacteria count down. DO NOT EAT THEM! The ponds in some countries where they raise shrimp could be compared to cesspools.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  26. Myto Senseworth

    Has anybody here observed how they produce food in the countries we import from? With the exception of Australia, you should refuse to buy it. I quit buying the organic veggies grown in California too. Almost killed me........

    July 17, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  27. Erlenmeyer

    I unfortunately have to get some things I eat from foreign countries during the winter... but I have both a summer and winter CSA share in upstate NY. So many veggies! I get a wide variety of local organic produce on the cheap and get to pay the farmers directly.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  28. JohnT

    Crops grown and harvested with not made in the USA equipment. The manufacturers moved production overseas because it is cheaper and the farmers wanted cheaper tractors.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
  29. Normkin

    With very few exceptions, the US is the number one source of imported food products in every important food market in the world. Who cares where Americans buy their food because the American farmer is making his/her money off of Mexico, Germany, France, Japan, China, Canada, etc. etc. etc

    Country of origin is a waste of time and money because quite simply the US outproduces the needs of its own market, so it's own market becomes irrelevant...check that SECONDARY. this isn't universal across products of course, but as a SECTOR, the US ag industry does not need the US to survive.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  30. saudiwoof

    Welcome to the world of the "free market." But with each and every country subsidizing their products to compete in a world market, this is the price that is being paid. Payment not to grow a crop to help keep, "quote, unquote" prices at certain levels to maintain profitability is insane. It goes against the whole concept of capitalism and free market theories. Let's take one crop, bananas, how many states in the US can grow bananas enough to keep up with demand? Not many that could make it profitable and because of that the price would be sky high. So if my banana comes from BFE and it passes government inspection and is relatively inexpensive, guess where I'm buying my banana.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  31. saudiwoof

    I get hungry, I eat, simple as that.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
  32. Cardinal

    The biggest problem with buying American food is the absurd amount of alterations made to food supply: everything has been "enriched", genetically modified, pumped full of chemicals, etc.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • Son of a farmer

      And that is not happening in China? I think the take home from all this is ask. We live in a world and time period of information technology. If you buy raw meat–chicken, beef, or poultry, ask the butcher at your local large chain grocer or Wal-Mart where it's from. When in doubt don't buy. If it's from overseas, Google it and see what pops up.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • What?

      It sounds like you need a history lesson as it relates to food "enrichment".

      July 17, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  33. Son of a farmer

    Two issues here I would like to address. First, shame shame on those who say they do not care if the food is from overseas. Second, farm subsidies do not save all farmers.

    I think the contrast explained here in regards to what happened to the furniture industry is interesting. Imported farm produce and grain crops is nothing new, but it appears we may have an opporutinity to curb the outsourcing of our food entirely. Even the commenters here who seem to care less about the American economy more likely than not would agree that the loss of jobs to outsourced production has impacted our economy.

    I am not an economist, but I know firsthand about the catfish industry. Beyond apples, what could seem to be more American. However, if you do not ask at the grocery store, you are most likely buying Chiness grown catfish. Catfish is naturally a bottom feeder. US Farm Raised catfish is fed a high protein food that never sinks. The uneaten food disintegrates and washes ashore. If the Chinese will put dangerous chemicals in babyfood, what do you think they will allow catfish to eat.

    As far as subsidies and again speaking from what I know, catfish farmers do not get them. Also, farm subsidies are about to be drastically cut. The US catfish industry is on the verge of extension now because of competition from Chinese catfish. The Chinese fish drove 90 percent of the farmers out of business. The few who stayed in saw recovery, but then defeat due to the processors loosing the market again. During the catfish shortage of last year, the Chinese producers took over. Catfish processors cannot seem to get back their position. There will be no subsidies for those who cannot sell their crop.

    The best way to sum this up is to highlight an article I heard on NPR a few years back. When US products were made in the US and made well, people paid a little more but kept them longer. I can envision a washing machine made in 1950 or 1960. It probably weighed a ton and did not have all the bells and whistles, but it did its job and lasted forever. The key point is it was made in the US, with US materials, and with US workers.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • N. Fegan

      So you, and others, are telling me that I ought to spend more money on an American product even if I can find an equally good product that is foreign-made. Insert visual of flag-waving here. It's been a hell of a long time since I've been in an economics class, but I thought that free enterprise was based on my being able to choose between two or more products, and buying the best product at the cheapest price, regardless of where it is made/grown. We as Americans have blown up the costs of so many goods and services over the years partly because we charge what the market will bear. However, it has gotten to the point that we've shot ourselves in the foot by doing this. I'm sorry, but I have to make my budget stretch, and if that means buying imported goods, then that's just what I have to do. I don't have a money tree growing in my backyard.

      July 17, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
      • fred

        You seem to ignore the fact that many of these foreign countries have very few environmental, labor, or safety laws included in their pricing. American products might be the same quality but will always carry a higher price tag until our bought out politicians enact tariffs to protect this country.

        July 18, 2012 at 2:01 am |
    • Ann Brush

      Nonsense – no farmer feeds food to his animals they cannot eat (feed floats so they cant eat it), if you WERE actually a farmer you would know that feed you paid for needs to go into the mouths of animals (fish) you wish to get revenue from – any losses in this regard eat directly into your profit (livelyhood).

      July 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
      • Anita

        I have never replied to a comment but feel I must this time. I am a former catfish farmer. We fed our fish floating feed and the fish came to the top and scooped it into their mouths. I have home videos of this. I work for a business that produces floating catfish feed. We also have a proccessing plant. I have witnessed the results of the Vietnamese (basa) and the Chinese fish destruction of our catfish industry.

        July 18, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  34. Martin

    What this article conveniently avoids mentioning is that much of the food grown in America is harvested by cheap illegal labor from south of the border. So the farmer may be benefiting, but he's a huge part of the illegal immigrant problem. If he had to pay a wage that legal residents of the U.S. would accept for such hard work, he'd go out of business.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Farmerswife

      Not all farmers use illegal workers but those that do most likely have to because Americans won't work the jobs. When I was a teenager I worked for local farmers. Those same farmers can't find enough teenagers to work for them. Please don't lump all farmers into the same molds and know your facts.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
      • David B

        The government has provided in the past, and would still provide the farmers with legal migrant workers, but they would have to treat the workers properly and pay a reasonable wage. So the farmers have chosen illegals over the legal migrant workers because they can make more money off the illegals.

        July 18, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  35. dan

    I don't buy unless it is non GMO. I try to buy local, but if it is genetically modified I'll buy from whatever country has rules to label non GMO. I would be more patriotic if the FDA would be more patriotic and protect me and not big multinationals. I cannot trust the FDA, especially with GMO foods as they let the industry do the tests themselves – how stupid do they think consumers are? The article does not even get into these issues, which are the governing ones for most of my friends and myself – the FDA is politicized and bought and not working for me. The Eu has better oversight and I'll buy EU food

    July 17, 2012 at 11:57 am |
    • Farmerswife

      Perhaps you should move to EU. We grow non-GMO soybeans-proudly. It costs us more but we feel it is worth it.

      July 17, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
  36. Jack 1

    I sure wouldn't eat foreign foods if I knew they were. You never know what you're really getting. You may think you're eating beef but you're eating dog or horse. I've eaten in a few mexican restuarants here in the states and wondered what the heck I was eating.

    July 17, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • levi

      If you eat Kangaroo you can just about guess when it came from.

      July 17, 2012 at 12:01 pm |
    • N. Fegan

      There is nothing right or wrong about eating any source of protein. It all depends on where you grew up and what is considered a food source by the people of your society. Some people still eat dogs in Asia. Bush people in Australia eat feral cats. A lot of people in South America eat guinea pigs. These animals are seen as pets in this country, but not in other parts of the world. Granted, I would have to be pretty damn hungry to eat a dog or a cat, but that is more because of sentimentality than anything else. I've eaten barbequed raccoon, buffalo, rabbit, and ostrich, to name a few of the more exotic meats. It's all a matter of personal preference.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
  37. Ralph

    I stopped buying organic broccoli from WHole foods when I found out it was grown in China. I have since bought my veggies at my local farmers markets.. Read the label on processed foods and make your own choice.. I trust farming in the USA much more than farming in China because I dont know what chemicals they may use, and what is allowed there.

    July 17, 2012 at 11:30 am |
    • freelance7

      Don't be so quick to trust US organic farming. Google Has ‘Organic’ Been Oversized? from the NYT, and read how Kellogg, Pepsi, Coke, Heinz, General Mills, etc. have turned organic farming into another big business, buying out farmers because they see the inflated prices people are willing to pay. 6 out of 15 board members voted to add ammonium nonanoate, an herbicide, to the national list (up to about 250 items) of organic ingredients.

      July 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
      • What?

        Why do you have a problem with that? Do you know what ammonium nonanoate is – other than it's a "herbicide"? Does the 'name' alone conjure up the idea that it can't possibly be "organic"?

        July 17, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  38. Mark - Atlanta

    FDA stopped seniors from crossing into Canada to buy (US made) pharmaceuticals at a lower cost. They said the FDA could not guarantee the quality and safety of the drugs (LIE). BUT – it's OK to eat food from GOD KNOWS WHERE???? Give me a freakin' break! It's all who's lobbyists have the deepest pockets to buy Congress. When are Americans going to do something about this? The upcoming election looks like more of the same no matter which way it goes!

    July 17, 2012 at 11:29 am |
    • JLS639

      The government of Canada cannot guarantee the safety of drugs in the United States, either. This is not a lie, but another kind of deception. Canadian drugs are, of course, as safe as United States drugs in almost every case (very few drugs are approved in one country but not the other).

      July 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  39. Lars Kelley

    Food also needs to be labeled if its genetically modified. This is a reason some buy pricier organic food or food from countries where there is a ban on genetically modified products.

    July 17, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • freelance7

      Produce already is, on the price sticker. A 4-digit number, that you have to punch in to get the price, means it's "regular" produce. Five numbers beginning with 8 means organic, and five beginning with 9 means GMO.

      July 17, 2012 at 11:01 am |
      • Consumer

        I think you have it reversed. Five digit number starting with 8 is GMO and starting with 9 is organic.

        July 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
  40. Nick Naranja

    By law your produce and meat should have country of origin labeling. If you do not see such labeling talk to your grocery manager about USDA required COOL (Country of Origin Labeling) for meats, seafood, and perishable agricultural commodities.

    July 17, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • cowsnkansas

      COOL was just shot down last week in the new farm bill by the lobbying power of the multuinational meat packers. Ranchers such as myself spent ten years trying to lable our product 'Product of the USA'the way that consumers like so they can make a choice about the foods they buy but big money tied to the hip of big govt won out. Corps don't want or think you need to know what is in your food or where it comes from. Read 'The Jungle' by Upton Sinclair as it applies better than ever to modern livestock production. I'm proud of the food that I produce right up to the point it walks off my ranch. Demand USA food.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
      • Stan

        Cows, if farmers can have farmers markets where people can buy locally produced vegetables and fruits, why can't ranchers
        have something similar? Perhaps a meat shop where they only sell locally produced meat.

        July 17, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
        • cowsnkansas

          Some ranchers have developed a niche market but two of the biggest deterents to that are 1.) alot of ranches are located a looong ways from an urban area and the number of animals we have to produce to cover fixed costs vs the number of accessible customers makes it tough and 2.) Alot of our consumers don't know the difference in quality of eating experience when you compare store bought steaks to home raised or aged beef (letting the carcass hang in the cooler 2-3 weeks at 40 degrees). Store bought beef is predominantly not aged as it is a commodity product. If you buy what we call freezer beef (ordering 1/4 to 1/2 of af an animal from a producer makes it tough to sell because you have to be able to match up the rest of the meat with a customer at the same time. Some of the guys who do this find it easy to sell steaks and some hamburger direct but getting rid of roasts and organ meat is tough.
          Also, beef production is segmented into different facets. For example I am a cow/calf producer. I sell calves at 500-800lbs which then usually go to a backgrounder which is a producer that grazes the calves up to 900-1000lbs and then they move on to a feedlot where they eat a starch based diet fo 90-120 days to develope marbling in the meat. This is approxamately a two year process from birth to harvest. As a cow/calf producer alot of the cows are not in areas conducive to the other segemtns of the industry so it is not feasible for the most part to participate in the direct sales approach to a viable degree. I painted this picture in broad strokes. Thanks.

          July 19, 2012 at 11:15 am |
  41. EP451

    Americans are taxed 20B USD (!!) a year in farm subsidies, so I feel i have already purchased your produce. Please let me decide where to buy the produce I am actually going to eat...

    July 17, 2012 at 12:31 am |
    • Farmerswife

      Please remember the Farm Bill includes significant spending for the food stamp program. As a farmer, we receive considerly less than 1% of our income from the government.

      July 17, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
  42. TBack55

    I would tend to purchase American grown products, but that information is not readily available for most foods (particularly produce and meats). I don't have time to play detective on every kind of fruit or vegetable I pick up.

    July 17, 2012 at 12:28 am |
  43. Shrimp Farm Tourist

    Sea foods seem to have country of origin. US or Canadian is the only product I buy.
    Australians are livid about the orange roughy being wiped out by American demand. That fish lives to be thirty years of age but they hardly have any left. Out of respect I do not buy that wonderful fish. At the supermarket level consumers can really make a difference. Just tell management you are not buying if there is no origin label. Once I caused a near scene
    about Chinese apple juice on the shelf. The label is soooo hidden. After it came out in the news that we are feeding out little babies Chinese apple juice, at the time when they were feeding their babies melamine and killing our dogs with ingredients from China, I really take time to read labels even tough I rarely ever buy apple juice I raised my voice and said "no kidding Apple juice from China ? no wonder our orchards are going bust." I don't see any more of that product in my organic market. It's our money we have a right to know what we are getting. I am really curious about dairy labeling excuse? Wonder if it has to do with milk? I lived in Asia and saw fish and shrimp processing. For starters they do not have clean enough water to pass our safety standards. I assume we chemically treat those products once they come to the US. Who? on earth would want to load up on food disinfectant ?

    July 16, 2012 at 11:42 pm |
  44. Planner922

    As a market consumer, unless I go to a local Farmers Market for seasonal produce, I am confined to the choices offered by my Supermarket. As in most Rural areas, it is more than likely this market is Walmart. Walmart no longer buys American, much less local.
    If you can explain to me how I can convince Walmart to offer American products for sale, I would be deliriously happy to buy them!
    But since Walmart has forced out all local competition, we have no other choice. There are ripple effects when manufacturing jobs (Union Jobs) are Outsourced.

    July 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  45. Joe

    All of our food products and food needs to have labels showing country of origin. This is a major health problem as lots of countries are dumping food and food products produced in unsanitary conditions. I have seen farms in other countries using human waste untreated raw sewage for crops. Its common practice in Mexico and most of South America for citrus crops.

    July 16, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • What?

      It used to be MANDATED in China; not sure if that's still the case.

      July 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  46. justaconsumer

    Farmers, don't outsource your machinery and supplies!

    July 16, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  47. Notadolt

    American farmers, among the wealthiest Americans, claim to oppose big government and public assistance, unless it takes the form of farm price supports, subsidies, special agricultural tax rates, tax deductions and import controls. Lots of under-reported farm income, too. Among the biggest crybabies around...

    July 16, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Farmerswife

      Please don't generalize...there is a 1% in farming just as in every occupation. MOST farmers are hard working individuals who just want to provide for their families. We battle market constraint, speculators and the weather for our living. We don't have a 401(k) and prefer to work for our money.

      July 17, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
    • FarmerJane

      Farmers are not among the wealthiest of Americans. We are among the poorest. Honestly, it's pretty painful to read these comments about us. I had no idea people felt this way. We work sun up to well passed dark without complaint. We do not hold our hands out. Farming is our chosen way of life. We are honorable, respectable, and take care of our own. I don't understand how so many people haven't gotten this bad taste in their mouths for farmers. We are not wealthy in the least. This hurts my heart a little.

      July 21, 2012 at 12:49 pm |
  48. Dennis

    meanwhile, the price of food goes up because the U.S. exports food.

    July 16, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Keith

      That is not true, few places in the world pay as much for food as we do.

      July 18, 2012 at 10:20 am |
  49. Down by the river

    I wouldn't mind seeing country/state of origin on every food item.

    July 16, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  50. NYFarmer

    Dairy farmers in US have been asking for Country of Origin labelling. Industry says it would be too confusing to consumers

    July 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • justaconsumer

      Have no idea why gvt thinks this would confuse me. I am in full support of country of origin/manufacture on everything.
      Sounds more like they want to hide something. Try the truth Washington. The average citizen has more brains and sense than anyone in Washington DC

      July 16, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
      • NYFarmer

        Imported milk protein concentrates in junk food, companies do not want consumers to see they are imported

        July 17, 2012 at 10:08 am |
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