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October 10th, 2007

Crops in Crisis: Oregon Strawberries

What happens to a nation’s farmers when the amount of imported food doubles within 10 years? In the United States, the value of agricultural products coming from overseas soared from $30 billion in 1995 to $60 billion last year.

Larry Thompson‚ family has grown strawberries in Boring, Oregon since 1947, when ‚five acres was all you needed to make a living.” Today, imports from Mexico and Chile make turning a profit more difficult.

Last year, $220 million worth of strawberries were imported into the United States, and only $1.5 million were grown domestically. The low wages paid to farm workers abroad make imported berries cheaper. Thompson used to sell his berries to processors, but now with prices so low, he only sells directly to the public.

To grow strawberries today, ‚you have to love it,” says Thompson, who now works seven days or 96 hours a week to keep up. Many farmers have given up the crop all together. If this trend continues, Oregonians could lose all access to local berries.

Food & Water Watch regularly profiles crops in crisis on our website and in our Food Alert newsletter. To find out what you can do to protect local food, sign up for our email lists and tell Congress to expand country-of-origin-labeling.

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