A Column of News & Comment by Senator James L. Seward 

The holiday shopping season is in full swing and we are being hit from all sides with a seemingly endless barrage of commercials and promotions.  While there are a number of factors shoppers use to evaluate potential purchases, one that should be kept in mind is where products are made.

Shopping our local Main Streets is one of the best ways to get in the holiday spirit and at the same time help spark the local economy.  The recent Small Business Saturday was a great opportunity to promote all of the terrific products our locally owned businesses offer.

This year, more than any other in recent memory, it is vital that we find ways to support our locally owned small businesses.  The COVID-19 pandemic has left many businesses struggling to stay open.  Additionally, the cost to do business has increased sharply with new safeguards and restrictions putting increased pressure on the bottom line for many.

Many of our local business organizations and chambers of commerce are sponsoring special promotions to assist small businesses and get the word out about their unique offerings.  Whenever possible, I hope you are able to meet your holiday shopping needs at one of our many amazing small businesses.  Certainly, once you see what they have to offer, you will be visiting our small businesses year-round.

You can further add to the holiday cheer by making sure purchases include a “Made in U.S.A.” label.  In fact, December is national “Made in America Month.”

President Ronald Reagan made the declaration in 1985 in an attempt to boost national pride and the national economy.  In making the proclamation, President Reagan stated in part, “It is time for consumers both here and abroad to take a fresh look at what America has to offer.  Those who do will find the traditional variety, high quality, and dependability that ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ has come to symbolize.  They also will find this quality at more competitive prices.”

This year’s presidential proclamation reads in part. “The “Made in America” stamp stands for excellence in craftsmanship.  It is a testament to the expertise of our millions of inventors, craftsmen, tradesmen, and laborers who make up the most skilled, innovative, and dedicated workforce in the world.”

I would like to take this a step further and alert consumers not only to the “Made in the U.S.A” label but also to goods produced right here in the Empire State.  Local chambers of commerce and municipal websites are leading resources to search out hometown businesses and events that highlight our local products and services year-round.  If your focus is on New York grown food and beverages then www.taste.ny.gov has plenty of links to businesses and events featuring homegrown items – including Christmas trees.

Of course, anyone who lives in our area of New York knows that agriculture is extremely important to our economy and our way of life.   I have said it before, but it is worth repeating when agriculture is doing well, New York State is doing well.  In recent years, I have pushed for legislation to ease unnecessary state regulations on farmers, advanced tax reforms to help young farmers take up the family business, and ensured state budget dollars are used to support vital agriculture programs.

Going back to President Reagan’s original “Made in America Month” proclamation, there is another passage that is worth noting.  It reads, “In an increasingly competitive world, we Americans must redouble our efforts to make products of the highest quality in the most efficient way and market them aggressively.”

Americans take a great deal of pride in their work and American-made products are consistently rated among the best in the world in a number of categories.  If you need a reminder, check the label while you are doing your holiday shopping, I am certain you will be proud to take home an item emblazoned with the words, “Made in the U.S.A.”