Oil I can understand. Even steel, to a degree, although I think we should step back and think very carefully about the strategic implications of depending on other nations for such a critical raw material.
But food? How did this happen?
According to U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service estimates released [November 22], 2005 will be the first year in nearly 50 that America will not turn an agricultural trade surplus.
The dubious milestone was met with odd silence at USDA. Odd because throughout the fall presidential campaign, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman talked herself hoarse each time some farm community in a swing state dedicated a new, USDA-sponsored street light.
Now, as America is about to become a net food importer for the first time in generations, Veneman has no explanation of how Bush administration economic and trade policies have taken American agriculture from a $13.6 billion trade surplus in 2001 to a flat line in four short years.
This is especially disturbing because the declining US dollar was supposed to help our export imbalance, especially in the ag sector. 2005 ag exports are expected to be $6.3 billion less than in 2004. And this all happened while Canadian beef was banned from the US market, and strict quotas limited the amount of Australian beef imported here.
This is a disturbing trend.