Palm Beach International Boat Show 2014

PalmBeach-Slide2014

The 29th Annual Palm Beach International Boat Show, March 20 – 23, 2014, is one of the top five boat shows in the country – featuring more than $1.2 billion  worth of boats,  yachts  and accessories from the world’s leading marine manufacturers. It is truly an International Show. The event includes hundreds of Boats from 8 foot inflatables, power boats, fishing boats, center consoles, bow riders, personal watercraft to superyachts over 150’. Show entrances will be located at  Evernia St./Flagler Dr. (waterfront) and North Clematis St./Flagler Dr. (waterfront).

Global Pet Expo

global pet expo

 

Global Pet Expo, the pet industry’s largest annual trade show, is presented by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) and Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA).

The 2013 Show featured 964 exhibitors, 2,686 booths and more than 3,000 new product launches. 5,327 pet product buyers from around the world attended.

In 2014, Global Pet Expo will take place March 12-14 in Orlando, Florida. Global Pet Expo is open to independent retailers, distributors, mass-market buyers, and other qualified professionals

- See more at: http://globalpetexpo.org/

Top U.S. manufacturers returning jobs back to states from China

By Lou Kilzer

Published: Saturday, Jan. 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

American corporations that off-shored manufacturing to China for two decades are bringing jobs home.

A decade ago, jobs were on a nearly one-way street to the People’s Republic. In 2003, when 150,000 manufacturing jobs went to China, 2,000 came this way, says Harry Moser, head of the Reshoring Initiative, a nonprofit group that tracks U.S.-China job flows.

Today “it’s a wash,” Moser told the Tribune-Review. Last year, 30,000 to 50,000 jobs left the United States for China, but 30,000 to 40,000 left China for the United States, according to an analysis of hiring by Apple, Motorola, General Electric, Ford and more than 140 other American-based companies.

A survey by Boston Consulting Group showed this trend is poised to accelerate. More than 50 percent of $1 billion-plus U.S. companies with operations in China are considering bringing all or part of their production to American shores, the consulting group reports.

Twenty-one percent told surveyors that they are doing so or plan to do so within two years. The 2013 figure is double that of 2012, the group noted.

Jerry Jasinowski, former president of the National Association of Manufacturers, cites as reasons: high Chinese energy prices, escalating wages, land prices, lack of protection for intellectual property, and air pollution.

It’s difficult to recruit managers willing to relocate families to Shanghai or another city where pollution levels are considered a serious health threat, he said.

Greg Hall, a senior vice president of Wal-Mart, told Site Selection magazine that the economics of manufacturing are changing rapidly: “In previous decades, investment mainly went to Asia where wages were low. The price of oil was low. … (Today) labor costs in Asia are rising. Oil and transportation costs are high and increasingly uncertain.”

Wal-Mart plans to shift at least $50 billion in manufacturing to the United States.

At the same time, a movement in China is impacting reshoring to America, Jasinowski said. Educated and wealthy Chinese increasingly want to move their families and money elsewhere.

About 30 percent of wealthy Chinese have moved some assets offshore, according to a 2013 survey by Boston-based Bain & Co. Among the high-net-worth Chinese without overseas investment, Bain found that more than half plan such investment. Only one in 10 said they did not plan to migrate assets out of China.

The Huron Report, which has tracked ultra-wealthy Chinese for more than a decade, reports that 16 percent of Chinese millionaires have moved or applied for visas to move out of the country. Forty-four percent are considering doing so.

Moser said he reviewed the Bain report and has told others: “The Chinese are taking their money out. Why should you (American companies) be putting money in?”

The change in job direction is not simple, however. Over the years, China acquired manufacturing from so many firms — and its domestic partners acquired so much foreign technology — that it developed essential supply lines. Just as American auto manufacturers remained competitive in part because domestic supply partners are strong, industries that relocated to China have long Chinese supply chains.

During the past three years, the Trib has chronicled how China leveraged its control over the mining and processing of rare-earth elements to lure manufacturing.

Paul Gillis, a professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management in Beijing, said, “Parts and supplies can be hard to find in the U.S. While China has lost its labor cost advantage, it is a lot harder than some think to just pull up stakes and move the factory to Pittsburgh.”

Don’t expect a publicity campaign by any company planning to pull up Chinese stakes and move to the United States, experts warn.

“Manufacturers don’t like to call it ‘reshoring’ or ‘onshoring,’ ” said Paul Cicio, president of Industrial Energy Consumers of America, a Washington manufacturing lobby. “They’re sensitive. They don’t want to tick the Chinese off” because China represents the largest market in the world.

If Wall Street banks are a barometer for the change in economic outlook, they appear to have made their bets. This year Goldman Sachs finished selling its stock in the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest bank, ending a relationship begun in 2006.

In September, Bank of America cut ties with China Construction Bank Corp. with a sale of $1.5 billion in stock. It acquired 9.9 percent of the bank in 2005. In December, HSBC dumped its final shares in the Bank of Shanghai.

Although the reasons for the breakups are varied, banking experts say the underlying reason is uncertainty about bad debts owed to banks in China.

Lou Kilzer is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media.

Read more: http://triblive.com/news/editorspicks/5272464-74/china-chinese-money#ixzz2pqK1RROB
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Maker’s Row and Cotton Incorporated Partner to Bring Back “Made in USA”

Affiliation provides education and business development opportunities to cotton associated industries

NEW YORK, Jan. 6, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ — Maker’s Row and Cotton Incorporated have announced their partnership that aims to further educate and connect textile brands with U.S. cotton suppliers and manufacturers. Through the efforts of their partnership, Maker’s Row, an online platform providing product-based businesses direct access to domestic manufacturers, and Cotton Incorporated, the research and marketing company representing America’s cotton producers and importers, will be able to reach and inform a far larger, more diverse audience on the cotton production process and associated benefits with domestic sourcing.

“The partnership with Cotton Incorporated was a natural choice. This partnership provides brands with a deeper understanding of one of the principal materials used in apparel today. With that understanding, brands have a greater opportunity to push the boundaries of their own products with our manufacturers on Maker’s Row.” said Matthew Burnett, CEO, Maker’s Row.

To steward their efforts, Maker’s Row and Cotton Incorporated have created a video titled, American Cotton Part 1, designed to assist businesses in the understanding of cotton production as it moves through the supply chain. By revealing the production process, businesses–from first-time entrepreneurs to big brands–are now able to make more informed decisions which will ultimately curate a better product.

“There are more than 70 cotton producing countries in the world and the United States is the third largest. And in the United States, we have more than 10,000 cotton farmers committed to high standards of cotton production. That starts at the farm and continues all the way through the grading and classing systems that exists for every pound and every bale of US cotton.” - Mark Messura, Senior Vice President, Cotton Incorporated.

“This is such a great collaboration and we are very excited to finally launch the campaign.  What we loved about the Maker’s Row team is their passion and enthusiasm for American manufacturing coupled with the fact that they are great storytellers through their video documentaries. We have a great story to tell about U.S. cotton and you will see fromAmerican Cotton Part 1how passionate the cotton farmers are about their crop and the many things the U.S. cotton industry is doing to produce the most responsible and traceable cotton in the world.  Everyone who sees this campaign should feel good about using American cotton as an ingredient in the products they create or source.” – David Earley, Sr. Director, Supply Chain Marketing, Cotton Incorporated.

Maker’s Row has also launched a page (makersrow.com/cottoninc) which features over twenty domestic cotton mills and suppliers of cotton-based materials that all comply with Cotton Incorporated’s stringent quality and responsibly-produced cotton requirements. The added platform will generate a larger community for businesses to discover and communicate with cotton-based suppliers and manufacturers across the United States.

Maker’s Row

Maker’s Row (makersrow.com) is an online marketplace that connects American manufacturers with  product-based businesses. Their mission is to make U.S. manufacturers universally accessible, and the production process simple to understand. Maker’s Row has created a community of makers, entrepreneurs, designers and businesses that are collectively coming together to bring back American manufacturing.

Cotton Incorporated

Cotton Incorporated (cottoninc.com), funded by U.S. growers of upland cotton and importers of cotton and cotton textile products, is the research and marketing company representing upland cotton. The program is designed and operated to improve the demand for and profitability of cotton.

For more information on the Maker’s Row and Cotton Incorporated partnership, or more information on Maker’s Row, please contact Matthew Burnett, CEO, Maker’s Row.

Media Contact: Matthew Burnett, Maker’s Row, 347-860-9333, matthew@makersrow.com

News distributed by PR Newswire iReach: https://ireach.prnewswire.com

SOURCE Maker’s Row, Inc.

RELATED LINKS
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Federal government spends $1.5 billion on foreign-made products

By Rob Groce, December 31, 2013

While unemployment remains high in the U.S., especially in the manufacturing industry, the federal government spends $1.5 billion annually on foreign-produced goods.

::::::::

In 2012 the American public objected after learning that U.S. Olympic team uniforms — from hats to shoes and all worn in between — were made in China. For athletes who represented the country to wear clothing made in another country was, well, un-American.

A new report by New York Times’ Ian Urbina, though, finds even more unpatriotic purchases: the U.S. government spends $1.5 billion annually on items made overseas.

Uniforms for federal firefighters and law enforcement, souvenir clothing sold by the Smithsonian and others items carrying military logos, and even uniforms worn by particular military units are made at factories in Southeast Asia, Central America, and the Caribbean.

And even though some laws and policies still exist to deter such outsourcing, it seems that few in charge of the relevant purchasing departments know much about it, and don’t seem to care, either.

According to the article:

“Federal agencies rarely know what factories make their clothes, much less require audits of them, according to interviews with procurement officials and industry experts. The agencies, they added, exert less oversight of foreign suppliers than many retailers do.”

And not only do these U.S. government offices not care if their goods are made outside the U.S., but they also don’t seem to care about the unfair — even dangerous – conditions in which those products are made.

“(T)here is no law prohibiting the federal government from buying clothes produced overseas under unsafe or abusive conditions.”

Attempts to at least ensure that the products purchased are safely made have been fruitless, too, and due to apparent profit-oriented selfishness.

“Labor and State Department officials have encouraged retailers to participate in strengthening rules on factory conditions in Bangladesh — home to one of the largest and most dangerous garment industries. But defense officials this month helped kill a legislative measure that would have required military stores, which last year made more than $485 million in profit, to comply with such rules because they said the $500,000 annual cost was too expensive.”

That the Dept. of Defense insists on overlooking life-protecting safety to preserve only one percent in profit doesn’t uphold its stated mission of security and protection, it seems.

Foreign facilities aren’t unsafe to their workers alone, though. They’re dangerous for Americans, with high rates of product recall due to safety violations.

Perhaps worse, they’re also a danger to the U.S. economy.  Losing over 2 million jobs during the 2007-2009 recession, unemployment in manufacturing remained as high as 13 percent through early 2010, months after the recession was declared over, and is still at a 6.2 percent level in the last-reported period of November 2013.

The 6.8 percent difference isn’t complete regain, either. Many of those jobs were eliminated, and the workers had to find employment in other industries.

Continuing economic damage to the U.S., those new jobs are paying workers less than they previously earned. While unemployment has notably declined, today’s wages are 6.1 percent less than national average income before the 2007-2009 recession began.

Manufacturing was once the dominant industry in the U.S., employing 19.5 million in 1979. Since then, over a third of those jobs have been lost to overseas facilities, though; only 12 million Americans currently work in this industry.

Through the last century, many laws were created to protect U.S. businesses and employment, including three Buy-American Acts that pertained to general and specific product fields.

The first one from 1933 was updated eight years later with the Berry Amendment, which specified that the Dept. of Defense could only purchase uniforms and food items (with other products later added) that are made by American companies throughout all phases of production.

In recent years, though, the federal government has sought continuous loopholes to these job-protecting measures. In 2001, for example, Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) introduced a bill that would exclude particular clothing items from the Berry Amendment; it passed later that year.  Fasteners were eliminated from inclusion by the Dept. of Defense in 2007, and in 2008 Congress removed many other metal items and even general off-the-shelf products from the list, too.

The American public is greatly aware of the impacts of job loss to foreign countries; 86 percent agree that U.S. companies are outsourcing jobs simply for lower wages, 95 percent agree that this practice has contributed to unemployment in the United States, and 90 percent think the primary method for economic recovery would be regulations to “keep jobs in America.”

Before they can attempt to correct this in the role of conscious consumers, however, the public will need to return to gainful employment with proper wages.

And to reach that first step, the U.S. government should stop spending its money on foreign-made goods.
Submitters Website: http://www.rob-servations.com/robs-blog.html

Submitters Bio:

A progressive political insider (and meddler) in the red state of South Carolina, Rob Groce operates his own blog, ROBservations (www.rob-servations.com/robs-blog.html).

Wool renaissance in Fosston; New wool mill will be second largest in U.S.

Original Post by: Ryan Bakken - Forum News Service 12/29/13

Stephenie Ande rson, the owner of Northern Woolen Mills in Fosston inspects some of the yarn her new processing plant is turning out. When at full capacity in about two weeks Northern Woolen Mills will produce 100 pounds of yarn a day.JOHN STENNES | Forum News Service

 

 FOSSTON — Stephenie Anderson’s timing for starting a wool-processing plant in Fosston is spot-on.

So says Bill Batchelder, president of Bemidji Woolen Mills, and Jim Stordahl, an extension agent in Polk County.

“There’s a renaissance nationwide of returning to products made in America,” Batchelder said. “There’s a large niche of consumers who are demanding natural fibers and American-made products, not ones made overseas.”

Stordahl agrees: “She’s part of a changing landscape, a movement where some of this (clothing) will be made back here.”

Anderson, 45, who grew up in Fertile, started her Northern Woolen Mills plant two months ago.

With eight employees, the business won’t have a big economic impact on this Polk County town of 1,500. However, it’s enough of a jolt that the city gave the fledgling business three acres of land in its industrial park on its western edge and a low-interest $100,000 loan.

Filling an opening

The plant’s processing starts with raw wool from sheared sheep and bison — mud, snarls and all — and turns it into fine, woolen yarn that is sold to clothing makers such as Bemidji Woolen Mills.

Anderson’s career track, which included management, tourism marketing and clothing design, took a dramatic turn after her employer had her lobby Bemidji Woolen Mills to resume the manufacturing of wool yarn. The company wasn’t interested, so Anderson filled the niche.

“I saw a need, an opening in the market, and decided to fill it myself,” she said. “Opportunity knocked and I went for it.”

Ironically, her first customer was Bemidji Woolen Mills.

The wool is all USA-grown, including from sheep ranchers in Fosston, Goodridge and McIntosh, and a bison producer in New Rockford, N.D. The equipment also can handle llama and alpaca wool.

When the equipment is all in place within two weeks, Anderson said, Northern Woolen Mills will produce 100 pounds of yarn per day, making it the second-largest processor in the country.

“I used to work in high heels and with (polished) fingernails,” she said. “Now I have grease on my hands and no fingernails. But it’s a lot more fun.”

Making an impact

Stordahl said the endeavor can have an impact at several levels.

“It’s certainly not a new 3M in the neighborhood and, for the average rancher, wool is a minor part of production,” he said. “But it does fill a niche. And wool has become a high-end fabric. If it’s high-quality wool, it is not scratchy to wear.”

Fosston has become “a hub of unusual agricultural niche products,” Stordahl said, citing the vegetable dehydrating plant in its industrial park as another example.

Chuck Lucken, Fosston’s city administrator, expressed excitement at a new business that didn’t seem likely even a few years ago.

“Any small industry we can get, whether it’s eight jobs or 50 jobs, is a good deal for us,” he said. “Who would have thought wool processing would come back?”

End Of An Era As Smelter Closes In Missouri Town

By: Jim Salter, Associated Press

HERCULANEUM, Mo. (AP) — From the day its founder arrived here, this Mississippi River town has been tied inseparably to lead, the heavy, dull-gray metal that has been mined in southern Missouri for more than two centuries.

As home to the nation’s only primary lead smelter, Herculaneum processes raw ore into metal to make car batteries, X-ray shields and many other products.

But the end of that long tradition is in sight for the small town 25 miles south of St. Louis that began smelting when this land was still owned by Spain. The company that runs the smelter, Doe Run Co., has decided to cease most operations at the end of the year, citing rising regulatory costs.

In this Nov. 15, 2013 photo, a "No Trespassing" sign is seen on a fence near Doe Run Co.'s lead smelter in Herculaneum, Mo. The nation's only primary lead smelter and the unquestioned center of the tiny town 25 miles south of St. Louis, is shutting down for good, its operator citing rising regulatory costs. Despite the environmental and health concerns that include high levels of lead in the blood of some children and yards so toxic the soil had to be removed, many in the small town are saddened by the end of an era. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

In this Nov. 15, 2013 photo, a “No Trespassing” sign is seen on a fence near Doe Run Co.’s lead smelter in Herculaneum, Mo. The nation’s only primary lead smelter and the unquestioned center of the tiny town 25 miles south of St. Louis, is shutting down for good, its operator citing rising regulatory costs.

Despite the environmental and health concerns that include high levels of lead in the blood of some children and yards so toxic the soil had to be removed, many in the small town are saddened by the end of an era. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)Lead has been both kind and cruel to Herculaneum, giving it an identity and ready jobs but also creating environmental and health concerns so worrisome that the federal government designated it a Superfund site and ordered tons of contaminated dirt to be dug up and removed. Many of the town’s children were found to have dangerously high lead levels in their blood.

Leslie and Jack Warden won’t miss the smelter. For 16 years, the couple lived less than three blocks away, literally in the shadow of the plant’s 550-foot smokestack. They raised their son there. Now 29, Eric Warden still suffers from developmental delays — a common effect of lead poisoning.

“I guess living there, you became pretty complacent about the dust, the fog, the smells,” Leslie Warden said. “It clung to the house. It was almost like a sticky dust.”

The Wardens were leaders of the effort to convince the Environmental Protection Agency to assess Herculaneum’s air quality in 2001. That testing was the impetus behind the move to clean up lead in the town known by locals as “Herky.”

“We didn’t do what we did to shut the plant down,” Leslie Warden said. “We wanted the children of Herculaneum to be safe from lead.”

Even the town’s name seems to evoke a smoky past shaped by earth and fire. Herculaneum is believed to be a reference to a Roman city that was among those buried by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The name was also inspired by the rocky ledges that rise over the Mississippi in a shape suggestive of a Roman amphitheater.

Herculaneum’s history dates to 1798, when a settler from Connecticut named Moses Austin obtained a Spanish land grant after learning of the region’s mineral deposits. He began mining and producing lead almost immediately.

By the mid-1800s, southeast Missouri was known as the “Lead Belt” for its rich deposits. Herculaneum’s standing was enhanced when the St. Joseph Lead Co. picked it as the site for a huge smelter, which opened in 1892 to extract lead from ore.

Primary smelting refers to that extraction process. Secondary smelting is a different practice that uses recycled scrap material.

Lead paint and leaded gasoline were phased out long ago, but lead is still used in many everyday products.

In 1994, St. Louis-based Doe Run bought the operation and with it the risks of a business that was the focus of growing health concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says lead can damage the brain and nervous system, and young children are especially susceptible. Even low levels can cause behavior and learning problems and hearing loss. For adults, lead can affect the nervous system and cause kidney and cardiovascular problems.

The EPA testing showed high levels of air pollution, and more than half of preschool-age children living near the smelter had elevated levels of lead.

Signs soon went up urging parents to keep their kids from playing on streets and in parks. Herculaneum’s 3,700 residents were even told not to wear shoes inside their homes.

In this Nov. 15, 2013 photo, Doe Run Co.'s lead smelter is seen in Herculaneum, Mo. The nation's only primary lead smelter and the unquestioned center of the tiny town 25 miles south of St. Louis, is shutting down for good, its operator citing rising regulatory costs. Despite the environmental and health concerns that include high levels of lead in the blood of some children and yards so toxic the soil had to be removed, many in the small town are saddened by the end of an era. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

In this Nov. 15, 2013 photo, Doe Run Co.’s lead smelter is seen in Herculaneum, Mo. The nation’s only primary lead smelter and the unquestioned center of the tiny town 25 miles south of St. Louis, is shutting down for good, its operator citing rising regulatory costs. Despite the environmental and health concerns that include high levels of lead in the blood of some children and yards so toxic the soil had to be removed, many in the small town are saddened by the end of an era. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Doe Run purchased around 150 homes through a voluntary buyout program. The Wardens sold their house in 2004 and moved to nearby Festus.

Today, much of the area around the plant is vacant and fenced-in, with posted warnings about the presence of lead. A few homes still stand near the smelter but most are unoccupied, used only by police and fire departments for training.

In addition to the buyout, Doe Run spent $14 million to remove lead-contaminated soil from nearly 700 properties — mostly residential yards but also school grounds, parks and other land. The contamination came partly from lead that spilled from trucks constantly going to and from the smelter.

The company also spent nearly $12 million in 2007 to reduce air pollution at the smelter, said Gary Hughes, general manager of Doe Run’s Primary Smelting Division.

After the smelter closes, the company has agreed to spend more than $8 million more for cleanup of the property, EPA spokesman David Bryan said.

The cleanup effort has helped. State testing this year found no Herculaneum children with dangerously high levels of lead in their blood.

Doe Run decided to close the plant in 2010, briefly reconsidered, then confirmed its original plan to shut down, citing increasingly strict air pollution standards.

“The cost of the factory in the current economic and environmental climate just put the company at too much risk,” Hughes said.

The plant will cease smelting at the end of the year but will remain open through 2014 for secondary purposes such as making alloys for specialty customers. About 75 of the 300 workers will stay on, and another 50 have been moved to other jobs, such as mining. Sixteen will retire, but the rest will be out of work. The company set up a career center to help them.

Doe Run, which hopes to find a buyer for the site, will continue mining lead in southern Missouri but will send the ore elsewhere for smelting, primarily to Asia, Hughes said. China is the world’s leading lead smelter.

The loss of the smelter will have lasting effects that go beyond jobs. Doe Run helped build a fire station in 2010 and a $6 million bridge last year. The company also funded scholarships, athletic events and other school-related expenses, and its taxes contributed $500,000 in 2012 to the district.

“There were the negatives with the smelter,” school Superintendent Stan Stratton said. “But they were always good partners.”

Kathleen Logan Smith of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment acknowledged the drawbacks, but said the quality of life will improve.

“For the folks living closest to the plant and the people who have endured lead dust on their streets, their lives are hopefully going to get better,” she said. “There’s an opportunity to re-envision what Herculaneum is and ought to be.”

‘Made in the USA’ may not mean what you think

By Dan Nakaso, dnakaso@mercurynews.com

Original article POSTED in San Jose Mercury News:   12/24/2013 04:29:23 PM PST |
Dylan Sievers, CEO of Bulldog LED Lighting, with some his products in Burlingame, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (John Green/Bay Area News Group)

 It seems simple enough: To be labeled as “Made in America,” a product sold in California must include only components manufactured and assembled in this nation.

But that’s a tougher standard than elsewhere in the country, where small amounts of foreign parts don’t invalidate the label. And now it’s touched off a debate among business interests and consumer rights groups, as state lawmakers consider lowering the threshold included in the state’s 52-year-old labeling law.

Richard Russell, chairman of the board of Russell’s Furniture, is opening a new store in San Mateo on Feb. 1 that he originally planned to call “Made in America.”

Labels on boxes of Bulldog LED Lighting products in Burlingame, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (John Green/Bay Area News Group)

But he changed the name to “Russell’s Furniture American Pride/Bringing Jobs Back Home” after his suppliers — including Amish craftspeople from Ohio — could not guarantee that every single component originated in America, which would meet the California standard for labeling a product Made in America.

“We’ve seen plant after plant shuttered and I want to support American manufacturing and bring jobs back to America,” Russell said. “But I don’t want to get sued. It blows me away that I can’t say ‘Made in America.’ It gets me upset.”

The idea of watering down California’s standard bothers Richard Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California, which opposed an earlier draft of the bill that would have allowed products to carry a “Made in America” label if 90 percent of the parts were made and assembled in the United States.

“It’s about truth in advertising,” Holober said. “The California standard is clear and you don’t get into the problem of subjectivity. What’s wrong with being honest? Why is it such a problem to simply say, ’90 percent Made in the USA?’ “

Businesses counter that they’re punished in the marketplace for trying to comply with California’s law because many of their competitors ignore it and label their products American made and sell them in California even when they contain foreign parts.

Nationally, the Federal Trade Commission oversees guidelines that are less restrictive than California’s, saying that a product claiming to be made in the USA “must be all or virtually all” made in America, said Julia Solomon Ensor, an attorney in the enforcement division of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection.

“On the one hand, of course we think it’s important for companies to promote the good work they’re doing in the USA,” she told this newspaper. “On the other hand, our primary goal is to prevent consumer deception.”

The national standard of “all or virtually all” leaves plenty of wiggle room for interpretation. The FTC will suggest ways for companies to comply, but the decision on what meets the FTC guidelines is left to the nation’s civil courts, just as California civil courts determine whether a product meets the state standard.

In California, it’s against state law to include a “Made in America” or “Made in the USA” label when any part of the product “has been entirely or substantially made outside of the United States.”

That means every single part essentially has to be made and assembled in the United States to carry a “Made in the USA” label in California. But representatives for business say it’s a standard that’s virtually impossible to meet in today’s global market.

A proposed revision of the law, SB 661, would allow goods containing foreign-made parts to be advertised as “Made in America” or similar phrases — as long as the parts cannot be found in the United States and as long as the foreign parts constitute a “negligible part” of the final product.

Circuit boards used in the Bulldog LED lights, in Burlingame, Calif., on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. (John Green/Bay Area News Group)

The law was enacted in 1961 to push back against foreign companies that were employing deceptive “Buy America promotions,” according to a legislative analysis of SB 661, which would amend the law.

The author of SB 661, state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, said his proposed changes would still be the most restrictive in the country.

“You should not be allowed to claim ‘Made in the USA’ if parts are available in the U.S. but you choose not to buy them,” Hill said. “But it will make California businesses as competitive as the rest of the businesses in all of the other 49 states.”

For consumers, Hill said, the new standard would let them know “that every effort was made to manufacture 100 percent in the United States except for just one small part that could not be made here.”

San Carlos-based Bulldog LED Lighting cannot get U.S.-made LEDs for its vehicle lighting systems. So Bulldog buys two separate packaging labels: One simply marked “MADE IN U.S.A.” for the rest of the country and an 11-word version for California that reads, “Made in the USA CA: contains global parts not domestically available.”

The wordier label has not hurt sales in California, which account for about 20 percent of Bulldog’s business, according to Lisa Sievers, Bulldog’s director of operations. Asked why Bulldog doesn’t simply use its California label for the rest of the country, Sievers said it puts her company at an unfair disadvantage against competitors who advertise that their products are “Made in the USA” across the country.

“A few years ago, I believed every word of ‘Made in the USA.’ Now I know differently,” Sievers said. “Now when I see the label, I think, ‘There’s no way. I know for a fact that wasn’t 100 percent made in the USA.’ “

Two separate polls by Harris and Gallup found overwhelming support among U.S. consumers who said they would pay more to buy products labeled “Made in the USA” to support American manufacturing, U.S. jobs and to push back against foreign competition.

But neither poll asked whether respondents understood that products marked “Made in America” actually are allowed to contain foreign parts.

Joel Joseph, founder and chairman of the Los Angeles-based Made in the USA Foundation, insists that savvy shoppers know that something labeled “Made in the USA” probably isn’t 100 percent American made — even in California.

Joseph called California’s current standard “ridiculous” and said it’s being protected by lawyers who see opportunities to take violators to court.

“Because it’s so easy to prove a violation, it’s the lawyers who want it — not the consumers,” Joseph said. “A lot of companies are violating California’s law, which makes it a hot bed for lawsuits.”

SB 661 faces a deadline of midnight Jan. 17 to get out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. If not, it’s dead.

In the meantime, Bulldog moved much of its operations to Texas in July, partly to reduce shipping costs and partly out of anger at California’s resistance to changing the standard. Even though part of its operation is now in Texas, Bulldog still must meet the California labeling standard to sell its lights here.

“We’re fighting to keep American factories in business,” Sievers said. “But we’re also trying to be honest with our labeling in California. Unfortunately, not everyone’s playing on a level playing field.”

Contact Dan Nakaso at 408-271-3648. Follow him at Twitter.com/dannakaso.

* Bulldog Lighting is Made in USA Certified with a qualifying claim.  For information please visit our website: www.USA-C.com

Follow Made in USA Certified on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/madeinusacertified

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On Twitter: https://twitter.com/madeinusacert  at @MadeinUSACert

Bangladesh Pollution, Told in Colors and Smells

Photo Credit: Khaled Hasan for The New York Times

Original post on New York Times July 14, 2013

By 

SAVAR, Bangladesh — On the worst days, the toxic stench wafting through the Genda Government Primary School is almost suffocating. Teachers struggle to concentrate, as if they were choking on air. Students often become lightheaded and dizzy. A few boys fainted in late April. Another retched in class.

The odor rises off the polluted canal — behind the schoolhouse — where nearby factories dump their wastewater. Most of the factories are garment operations, textile mills and dyeing plants in the supply chain that exports clothing to Europe and the United States. Students can see what colors are in fashion by looking at the canal.

“Sometimes it is red,” said Tamanna Afrous, the school’s English teacher. “Or gray. Sometimes it is blue. It depends on the colors they are using in the factories.”

Nearly three months ago, the Rana Plaza factory building collapsed, killing more than 1,100 people, in a disaster that exposed the risks in the low-cost formula that has made Bangladesh the world’s second-leading clothing exporter, after China, and a favorite of companies like Walmart, J. C. Penney and H & M. That formula depends on paying the lowest wages in the world and, at some factories, spending a minimum on work conditions and safety.

But it also often means ignoring costly environmental regulations. Bangladesh’s garment and textile industries have contributed heavily to what experts describe as a water pollution disaster, especially in the large industrial areas of Dhaka, the capital. Many rice paddies are now inundated with toxic wastewater. Fish stocks are dying. And many smaller waterways are being filled with sand and garbage, as developers sell off plots for factories or housing.

Environmental damage usually trails rapid industrialization in developing countries. But Bangladesh is already one of the world’s most environmentally fragile places, densely populated yet braided by river systems, with a labyrinth of low-lying wetlands leading to the Bay of Bengal. Even as pollution threatens agriculture and public health, Bangladesh is acutely vulnerable to climate change, as rising sea levels and changing weather patterns could displace millions of people and sharply reduce crop yields.

Here in Savar, an industrial suburb of Dhaka and the site of the collapsed Rana Plaza building, some factories treat their wastewater, but many do not have treatment plants or chose not to operate them to save on utility costs. Many of Savar’s canals or wetlands are now effectively retention ponds of untreated industrial waste.

“Look, it’s not only in Savar,” said Mohammed Abdul Kader, who has been Savar’s mayor since his predecessor was suspended in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster. “The whole country is suffering from pollution. In Savar, we have lots of coconut trees, but they don’t produce coconuts anymore. Industrial pollution is damaging our fish stocks, our fruit produce, our vegetables.”

Bangladesh has laws to protect the environment, a national environment ministry and new special courts for environmental cases. Yet pollution is rising, not falling, experts say, largely because of the political and economic power of industry.

Tanneries and pharmaceutical plants are part of the problem, but textile and garment factories, a mainstay of the economy and a crucial source of employment, have the most clout. When the environment ministry appointed a tough-minded official who levied fines against textile and dyeing factories, complaining owners eventually forced his transfer.

“Nobody in the country, at least at the government level, is thinking about sustainable development,” said Rizwana Hasan, a prominent environmental lawyer. “All of the natural resources have been severely degraded and depleted.”

Less than two miles from the site of Rana Plaza, the Genda primary school has a student body made up mostly of the children of garment workers. Golam Rabbi, 11, who is the top-ranked student in the third grade there, lives with his mother and two younger brothers in a single room. The boys use price tags collected from factory floors as makeshift playing cards.

“The school always smells,” Golam said. “Sometimes we can’t even eat there. It is making some kids sick. Sometimes my head spins. It is hard to concentrate.”

His family is still struggling to recover from the Rana Plaza collapse. His father, a security guard, was killed in the disaster, and his mother is trying to support her sons and keep the two oldest in school. The father had left school for work — as had the mother — and both parents believed education could provide their sons a better life.

“His main goal was to get his children educated,” Golam’s mother, Hasina Begum, said of her husband.

But the pollution has made it hard. Golam has fainted from the smell. “He has told me several times that he doesn’t want to study at the school,” his mother said. “When it is very hot, and the breeze brings in the bad smell, he can’t breathe properly. I tried to reassure him, saying that people are holding rallies. I don’t know why the pollution is still continuing, why they can’t stop it.”

Factories surround the school: within 300 yards are two garment factories, two dyeing operations, a textile mill, a brick factory and a pharmaceutical plant. At least 10 dyeing plants can be found in a slightly larger radius. An underground drainage channel dumps wastewater through a pipe into the canal behind the school.

Mohammed Abdul Ali, the school’s headmaster, said he had approached local factory owners, as well as Savar officials, trying to get the drainage pipe moved. Mothers of children at the school, including Golam’s mother, have held awareness workshops and rallies. Local environmentalists have also campaigned.

“We’ve never seen the owners take our appeals seriously,” Mr. Ali said. “Everything is going on as usual. They have a good relationship with the politicians. That is why they don’t care.”

On a recent rainy afternoon, the smell was overpowering as the school’s fifth graders gathered in a classroom. Asked how many had parents working in garment factories, 23 of the 34 students in the room raised their hands.

“Sometimes my head is spinning,” one student said of the smell. “Sometimes we feel like we need to vomit,” another said.

Barely 100 yards away, behind a battered metal gate, the Surma Garments factory was dyeing fabric in a shade of dark purple. Mahadi Hasan, a manager, offered a tour of the Effluent Treatment Plant, where wastewater is treated with chemicals in a series of concrete tubs. He called for a worker to bring beakers with “before” and “after” samples — only to be handed an “after” sample in which the water was light purple.

Asked about pollution at the nearby school, Mr. Hasan said his wastewater flowed in the opposite direction, though that would mean it flowed uphill. “There are some other factories around here,” he said. “The water might be from them.”

In February, environmental regulators fined Surma Garments and four other factories for illegally dumping pollution. Two years earlier, another factory near the school, Anlima Yarn Dyeing, was fined for dumping untreated waste, even though it had a functioning effluent treatment plant. Local news accounts said that Anlima Yarn had been operating without an environmental clearance certificate for 23 years.

The inspections were part of a highly publicized antipollution enforcement campaign led by Munir Chowdhury, a senior official in the environment ministry. Mr. Chowdhury raided factories, often at night, finding that many were saving money by dumping waste without treating it. He imposed repeated fines until he was transferred this year to run the state dairy operation.

Mr. Kader, the acting mayor of Savar, said there was only so much a single official could do. “You should understand the reality in Bangladesh,” he said. “These people who are setting up industries and factories here are much more powerful than me. When a government minister calls me and tells me to give permission to someone to set up a factory in Savar, I can’t refuse.”

For global brands that buy clothing from Bangladeshi factories, pollution rarely gets the same attention as workplace conditions or fire safety. H &M has sponsored some environmental programs, but Bangladeshi environmentalists say global buyers have done far too little.

“The buyers totally understand the conditions of Bangladesh and they take advantage of it,” said Ms. Hasan, the environmental lawyer.

Julfikar Ali Manik contributed reporting.

See original post on The New York Times here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/15/world/asia/bangladesh-pollution-told-in-colors-and-smells.html?_r=0

China Imposes First-Ever West Coast Shellfish Ban

Originally published on Thu December 12, 2013 5:58 pm on KUOW.ORG
By  AND KATIE CAMPBELL AND ANTHONY SCHICK

China has suspended imports of shellfish from the west coast of the United States — an
unprecedented move that cuts off a $270 million Northwest industry from its biggest
export market.

China said it decided to impose the ban after recent shipments of geoduck clams from
Northwest waters were found by its own government inspectors to have high levels of
arsenic and a toxin that causes paralytic shellfish poisoning.

The restriction took effect last week and China’s government says it will continue
indefinitely. It applies to clams, oysters and all other two-shelled bivalves harvested from
the waters of Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Northern California. U.S. officials think the
contaminated clams were harvested in Washington or Alaska. Right now they’re waiting
to hear back from Chinese officials for more details that will help them identify the exact
source.

State and federal agencies oversee inspection and certification to prevent the shipment of
tainted shellfish. Jerry Borchert of the Washington Department of Health said he’s never
encountered such a ban based on the Chinese government’s assertion that these U.S.
safeguards failed to screen out contaminated seafood.

“They’ve never done anything like that, where they would not allow shellfish from this
entire area based on potentially two areas or maybe just one area. We don’t really know
yet,” Borchert said.

The biggest blow could fall to those who farm or harvest the supersized geoduck clams.
In the Northwest, they’re concentrated in Washington’s Puget Sound, where about 5
million pounds of wild geoduck are harvested each year. Aquaculture accounts for an
additional 2 million pounds, according to estimates from the Washington Department of
Natural Resources.

A barricade around the Chinese consumer market means trouble for those in the
Northwest who rely on Asian trade.

“It’s had an incredible impact,” said George Hill, the geoduck harvest coordinator for
Puget Sound’s Suquamish Tribe. “A couple thousand divers out of work right now.”
The U.S. exported $68 million worth of geoduck clams in 2012 — most of which came
from Puget Sound. Nearly 90 percent of that geoduck went to China.
Geoduck are highly prized in China, where the clams sell for retail prices of $100 to $150
per pound. Although geoduck are harvested year round, demand peaks during the holiday
season leading up to the Chinese celebration of the lunar new year — which falls on Jan.
31 for 2014.

The geoduck (pronounced “GOO-ee-duck”) is a the world’s largest burrowing clam. It’s
slow-growing, regularly reaching 100 years old and often weighing as much as 10
pounds.

Harvesters are waiting for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to
negotiate with the Chinese government to come to an agreement on how to move
forward and reopen shellfish trade. NOAA stopped issuing certification for shellfish
exports last Friday.

Officials say the investigation is ongoing but the closure could last for months. While the
industry awaits a resolution at the international level, it is adjusting to the new reality.
The Suquamish Tribe is trying to develop other markets in New York, California and
locally at seafood markets in Seattle, Hill said.

Bill Dewey, a spokesman for the largest shellfish supplier in Washington said his
company, Taylor Shellfish, is looking at other solutions.

“I was just talking to our geoduck manager and he’s got two harvest crews and three
beach crews essentially doing makework,” Dewey said. “He’s too nice a guy to lay them
off during the holidays but there’s only so much you can be charitable about making work
for people and eventually you’re going to have to lay them off.”

Copyright 2013 ERTHFX. Original post: http://kuow.org/post/china-imposes-first-ever-west-coast-shellfish-ban

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