It's no secret that America outsources jobs overseas for cheaper labor. But that's not all.
We also outsource a massive amount of food and goods. In fact, we import double the amount China imports despite the fact they have significantly more people.
No matter how great our country's trade agreements are, they will not prevent wars, pandemics, or climate-related events.
These types of events have brought production and manufacturing to a standstill across the globe, causing supply chain issues we are still battling today.
But things don't magically go back to normal once these major events are over – a fact that every one of us is experiencing in our grocery stores. Elevated shipping costs to get imported food across oceans and into our country continue to cause prices in the grocery store to skyrocket.
Those costs get passed down to you and me.
But high prices aren't the only reason we should be concerned about the massive amount of outsourcing America does for food and goods – it also comes down to simply being able to get those products.
What will we do if we enter a war with a country we are highly dependent on for imported resources? Where will we get the food and supplies we need if we find ourselves suddenly cut off from the countries we've come to depend on?
Moreover, why are we content to allow so many of our goods to come from other countries when we are capable of producing the same goods here in America?
The American Conservative argues, "Apple juice served in Iowa schools should come from Iowa farmers, not from a country on the other side of the globe."
They have a point. If we continued to produce more of the goods we import, we wouldn't be so afraid of potential shortages.
The amount the US imports is a serious problem – one that many Americans ignore. Take time today to familiarize yourself with the types of goods America outsources and come up with a plan to prepare for shortages.
1. Fruit, Vegetables, and Meat
Let's start with food. America imports more food than any other country.
This is likely because we've stopped producing as much, forcing us to outsource excessively.
According to The American Conservative, "Since 1980, America has lost 50 percent of its cattle farms, 80 percent of its dairies, and 90 percent of its hog farms."
Americans have also grown accustomed to foods, such as coffee and tropical fruits, that are easier to get year-round from other countries.
As a result, much of the food we eat is imported.
Food Safety News reports, "Food imports will likely continue to increase, with imports of fresh fruits and vegetables rising 45 percent from 2016 to 2027. In other words, 75 percent of our fruit and almost half of our vegetables will likely be imported by then."
It sounds shocking, but we are already well on our way.
According to the USDA summary data on annual food imports, total food imports in 2021 in millions totaled 166,946.5. In 2020, the year prior, the total food imports in millions was 146,406.1.
The Packer adds, "US imports of fresh fruits from January through May surged 13% compared with a year ago. […] Total fresh fruit imports from January through May during 2021 totaled $8.03 billion, up 13% from $7.08 billion the same time the previous year."
The top imports were fish and shellfish, fruits, grains, and vegetables. Meats were not far behind.
2. Energy Sources
The US also outsources energy sources, which is a hotly debated topic. For instance, according to EIA (US Energy Information Administration), "In 2020, about 98% of US total annual natural gas imports were from Canada and nearly all by pipelines."
Take a minute and think about what is happening with the natural gas pipelines in Russia. Russia cut off gas to a few European countries. The Ukraine conflict is also causing a ripple effect resulting in a fertilizer crisis (since natural gas is a necessary element).
[Related Read: Prepare Now for the Long-Term Effects of the Fertilizer Crisis]
What would happen if Canada cut off natural gas pipelines to the US?
We can expect a hit to electricity, for one thing.
AFDC reports, "Most of the nation's electricity was generated by natural gas, nuclear energy, and coal in 2020. Electricity is also produced from renewable sources such as wind, hydropower, solar power, biomass, wind, and geothermal."
It's essential to consider a natural gas shortage when preparing and what will happen if a terrorist or other major event brings down the power grid.
3. Medical Supplies
America also outsources the production of medical supplies – as much as $42.2 billion in imports of medical supplies.
According to Stacker, "Mexico is one of the leading exporters of optical and medical instruments to the US Such goods are critical to the functionality of hospitals and doctors' offices."
In addition, China and the European Union are primary suppliers of medical necessities.
Think back to the start of the pandemic and how difficult it was to find essentials, such as gloves for doctors, PPE, and face masks. The problem is that most of those supplies were outsourced from other countries.
Another significantly outsourced product from other countries is alcoholic beverages, such as wine, beer, and hard liquor.
Stacker reports, "The US imports billions of alcoholic beverages annually, with France being its main import source for hard liquor."
USDA also lists alcoholic beverages as one of America's highest imports.
5. Communication Devices
One of the top 10 import industries in America is Communication Equipment Manufacturing.
According to IBIS World, "The Communication Equipment Manufacturing industry produces radio and TV broadcasting equipment, satellites, antennas, global positioning system (GPS) equipment, pagers, mobile communications equipment and cell phones."
So far, in 2022, imports in this industry have reached $122.5B.
When one of these plants in this industry shuts down due to sickness, war, or natural disaster, it causes a ripple effect.
Here's one that will shock you.
Globe Newswire reports, "The US emerges as the world's largest importer in the global electric battery market. […] in Q1-Q3 2021, electric accumulator imports into America totaled $8.6B, gaining 58% from the same period in 2020. This figure reflects total purchases of lead-acid, nickel-cadmium, nickel-metal hydride, nickel-iron, lithium-ion, lithium-polymer, and other electric batteries, as well as accumulator separators. Shipments from China, the leading accumulator supplier to the US, spiked by 78% to $3.2B. Over the past decade, US electric battery imports soared from $3B to $7.9B."
How to Prepare for Shortages of Imported Goods
Knowing how many foods and consumer goods America outsources and imports from other countries is alarming. It puts our country in a precarious situation. As those who seek to be self-reliant, we don't want to feel dependent on our government, let alone another country.
The best way to deal with likely shortages due to outsourcing is to prepare.
- Start growing your own food. One of the best ways to be self-sufficient is to grow your own food. Don't depend on fruits and vegetables to come from other countries. Instead, grow your own and learn how to preserve them.
- Start a hobby farm. Another means of self-sufficiency is hobby farming. With more and more local farms folding, now's the time to start preparing to care for your own livestock.
- Stock up on emergency food. Not only is long-term emergency food beneficial for emergencies or shortages, but buying it now is a good way to avoid paying the high cost of inflation.
- Invest in solar power tools and batteries. It's only a matter of time before the power grid fails. You'll need solar power tools and batteries. Since we now know that we import most of our batteries from China, it's wise to stock up on them before something happens and we can't find batteries in the US.
- Find out how to make your own alcohol. Alcoholic beverages are helpful in emergencies. They work well for bartering and easing nerves, but they will disappear quickly.
- Buy discounted medical supplies. Whenever possible, stock up on discounted medical supplies and medications.
- Stock up on communication devices. Don't trade in devices. Keep them just in case. And purchase additional communication devices, such as emergency radios and walkie-talkies.
Prepare today for import shortages tomorrow, friends.
Preparedness Advisor, My Patriot Supply