What would America be without garlic farmers?

For decades, the fiercely independent fruit and vegetable growers of
California, Florida and other states have been the only farmers in
America who shunned federal subsidies, delivering produce to the tables
of millions of Americans on their own.

But now, in the face of tough new competition primarily from China,
even these proud groups are buckling.  Produce farmers, their hands
newly outstretched, have joined forces for the first time, forming a
lobby group intended to pressure politicians over the farm bill to be
debated in Congress in January.

Most of the current $15 billion in direct subsidies goes to five commodities: corn, cotton, rice, wheat and soybeans.  Now Chinese garlic sells for about half the wholesale price of American garlic.  One garlic manager commented:

“The Chinese garlic totally caught us off-guard and knocked us down,”
Mr. Mantelli said recently as he checked on newly planted garlic bulbs.
“I think our industry has hit rock bottom.  Maybe now we can figure out
how to make it a level playing field.”

Here is the full story.

Comments

Listening to the Maryland economists remarks about how the American farmers are perfectly justified in their lobbying for protection makes me want to puke all over myself. I cant believe that the times went out and quoted the one economist who probably supports trade protection in America. The times really showed their true colors with that piece. Over ninety percent of economists advocate abolition of all farm subsities however, the times does not feel it is journalisticaly prudent to quote someone from that group. Presenting the infintile minority opinion as though it is the dominant opinion in the field is irresponisble at best, if not down right sinister.

A world without garlic would be hardly worth living in, especially for those Chinese living in California. http://www.thestinkingrose.com/

Now, the chinese garlic threatens domestic farmers in US.Glbalisation makes them to say that"The Chinese garlic totally caught us offguard and knocked us down".If this is the case of US farmers,imagine the plight of thousands of hapless farmers in developing countries.For example,in the State of Kerala in India, hundreds of poor farmers cultivating pepper,ginger,arecanut,coconut, other spices like clove etc in the Wynad district in the Western ghats committed suicide due to steep fall in prices as a reult of liberal trade policies.

Chinese garlic prices are so low - in part- because China pegs its currency to the dollar at artificially low exchange rates. Were that not the case, its products would be competitive probably, but not half of US prices. Most US economists don't understand something basic - that supply and demand in the US can only "clear" through the price mechanism and the Invisible Hand when China and others don't put a thumb on the price scales. Which they are doing openly.

If the dollar were cheaper, as it should be in relation to many currencies, we wouldn't need to subsidize export promotion either. The US is being subjected to overt predatory exports with artificially low prices. You guys need to go back to school and study supply and demand again.

As this site should know, these growers already receive a huge subsidy because of politicians' widespread support for illegal immigration. In that case, the growers get low-wage labor, and the true cost of that labor is passed on to others: public schools, healthcare, etc.

Ah, the Garlic fest in Gilroy isn't that cool anyway. Thi is really a dropped ball by Mexico. If they had made more investment in infrastructure, even just a decade ago, they could be providing a lot of the fresh produce we eat, including garlic. The fact that U.S. garlic (and other produce producers) are competing with China, accross the Pacific and not Mexico is very telling.

If the Chinese garlic being sold in the U.S. is the same as the Chinese garlic being sold in Japan, there is still hope. Large bags of garlic from China can be had cheap here, but it goes dry and soft really fast. I don't know how old it is when it hits these shores, but it sure goes bad quickly.

Garlic from Aomori in Japan is really fresh, hard, _juicy_, and with a long shelf life. We've grown our own garlic (easy to do, just put cloves in the ground), and it's not much fresher than Aomori garlic.

Produce in California may not itself be subsidized, but much of the water in California is heavily subsidized by federal money (mostly in the form of large construction projects on which costs aren't recouped). Of course, on some level one can label everything as taxed and subsidized if one goes five levels deep, but in this case the subsidy is quite significant; if water projects for California agriculture were carried out only when the investment could be recouped from water consumers, a lot of California's agriculture wouldn't exist.

Doesn't it seem that whenever someone uses the phrase "level playing field" they are arguing for the exact opposite.

"I've forgotten more economics than you'll ever know."

Since the amount that you've forgotten appears to be 100%, I totally agree.

Again, you still don't seem to realize that everything you're discussing is covered by fairly plain vanilla conventional economic analysis. China may be following some employment policy by keeping their exchange rate low, but it's not a very smart policy. By keeping their currency low, hey're paying us to consume their goods, and they're even giving us cheap capital by aborbing our debt at lower interest rates than we would otherwise have to pay. This is bad for China and good for us. But I agree with most macroeconomists that this isn't sustainable, which is why we want to make major changes to our fiscal policy, to make a gradual correction and avoid a major and sudden correction. But China's policies are essentially hurting China and benefiting us.

Really, OldVet, go learn economics, especially the parts about trade and financial flows, before you go talking about what economists know and don't know. You can call me mean-spirited and small-brained, but all I did was call you out. You're the one who wrote checks you can't cash.

I think some other commenters have made some great points, especially about the water subsidies that California farmers receive. Ideally, some of the secondary effects of trade in agricultural products may be the weakening of the political forces that push for disastrous water and agricultural subsidies. This would be a very good thing.

But do those Chinese growers sell varietal garlic? Don't laugh. The Fang family orders from those guys, and the garlic is fantastic.

And do those Chinese growers sell green garlic (the garlic equivalent of green onions)? Mmmm, green garlic.

Let Garlic farmers go under? Unthinkable. Haven't we been told time and time again that we must allow Open Borders (in spite of the dreadful economics) to keep labor intensive agriculture in business. If it's worth importing a new underclass to save garlic farmers, we sure can't let the Chinese put them out to pasture.

I grow top quality gourmet top-setting garlic which must be hand-crafted,and not industrialized.I also sell it personally to those who care about quality.We welcome the no-taste junk as it makes our product even more desirable.
We do not compete on price,but on quality.INDUSTRIAL GARLIC DOES NOT REPELL WEREWOLVES,VAMPIRES,OR EVEN WIMPS. Go to a "farmers market" and find out what real garlic is all about.

it could make a big economic losses sure

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