Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Oh Say, Is that Star-Spangled Banner Made in the U.S.A.?

by Kim Mendelsohn, Special to


Image courtesy of Annin & Co

It was seeing foreign-made American flags at a veteran’s memorial ceremony that inspired a West Virginia legislator to act.

State Del. Jack Yost (D), a former Army reservist, recently proposed a bill that would require that all flags purchased with state funds be made in the U.S.A.. He’s not alone – lawmakers in nine other states also have moved to restrict sales of foreign-made flags.

“Our veterans, they’re made in the United States,” Yost said. “I saw that flag, and a red flag went up in my mind. I thought, ‘This isn’t right.’”

Yost’s proposal, which will go into effect this summer, is modeled on a Tennessee law passed in 2005. Legislators in Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Wisconsin took up similar proposals this spring. The bills in Florida, Missouri and Oklahoma remain in the legislature, while Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D) and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle (D) signed their states bills into law in March. A new Minnesota law goes even further. It forbids the sale of any foreign-made U.S. flags in the North Star State.

Getting these laws through legislatures is not the only hurdle facing states that follow Minnesota’s example. Laws barring the sale of foreign-made products in the United States are in direct conflict with international trade treaties.

The vast majority of flags made outside the United States are produced in China, where labor and materials are significantly less expensive. Vendors are concerned that higher production costs for flags made here will force them to raise their prices.

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