Oceana County - Michigan

I love asparagus, but I never thought about where it is grown and where it comes from, until a few weeks a ago. I watched a documentary on TV called 'Asparagus! (A Stalk-umentary)'. The documentary came out in 2006, directed and produced by Kirsten Kelly and Anne de Mare.

The documentary is about asparagus growers in the Oceana county, the third largest asparagus growers in the United stated, and why they are going out of business. Small farmers, where asparagus is their livelihood.

In 1991, The U.S. signed the Andean Trade Preference Act, eliminating all import tariffs on South American asparagus with the hopes of reducing the cocaine imports. The US War on Drugs program hoped to reduce the cocaine production by sending huge subsidies to Peru for their alternative crop program, asparagus. Later, NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) brought Mexican asparagus followed by China into the U.S. Now, due to cheap labor, the small farmers in Oceana county can not compete with foreign competition, and are forced to loose their farms and businesses.

Why does our government subsidies foreign farmers, and allows our own farmers go out of business? Other countries, do not have our labor laws, our regulations and standards of safety, ;therefore they can afford to produce their goods at a cheaper rate. Is cheap labor, and lower cost the only thing consumers care about?

Did the cocaine production go down? See the documentary for yourself at http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/asparagus_a_stalk_umentary/