Did you know? What It Takes To Be Labeled “Made In USA”.

Most consumers think that buying something made domestically will boost the economy. Unfortunately many don’t act in agreement with the notion they defend … Still, more than ever, the “Made In USA” label is luring consumers wishing to help reviving U.S. manufacturing and create jobs. But what does it take for a product to be labeled with the iconic label?

The set of rules established by the Federal Trade Commission in a 44-page book is quite complex, confusing, with guidelines authorizing the “American Made” stamps on products not as American as you could think. A company must be able to prove that their final products are assembled or processed in the United States. First, the FTC doesn’t require a systematical approval for the use of “Made In America”, doesn’t conduct controls on possible misuse of the label, except if it receives a complaint. But for each violation, fines may run very high.

Second,for products whose parts have been manufactured in one or several foreign countries, the claim “Made In America” must be decided under the “one step removed” rule. If your motorcycle jacket is made with leather from overseas but sewn in the USA, it can’t carry the label. But if the same jacket is made with US leather sewn together with thread made overseas, it can be labeled “Made In USA.”

Third, companies that can’t get all of their part components made in the USA can use what the FTC calls qualified “Made in USA” claims, such as “Made in USA From Imported Parts” or “Assembled In the USA”  Big brands can benefit from the label while sourcing cheaper imported materials to cut costs. The argument is that if these companies would not benefit from these cheaper materials, they possibly would be smaller or disappear, increasing the unemployment rate in the US. A complex topic that I let you debate…

32 Responses to “Did you know? What It Takes To Be Labeled “Made In USA”.”

  1. 1 Will Sep 19th, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Here’s how it should be:

    Made in the USA: Every single part of the product was made and assembled in the USA.

    Assembled in the USA: The product was assembled in the USA of “completely foreign” or “foreign and domestic” parts.

    With these clear instructions there will be no doubt about it. The way the government has made the rules, as you have pointed out, make it confusing for everyone.

    It’s time for the government to get out of the business of “marketing terms”. If you don’t understand what I mean by that, look up the history of synthetic oil, organic food label, and many others…

  2. 2 Peter Sep 19th, 2012 at 10:12 am

    I totally agree, but you realize that by your guidelines it would mean that no “American” car, or Harley motorcycle would be able to be labeled “Made in USA”? This practice started along time ago and I remember Stanly tools running afoul in the 80’s when they were labeling all their tools as made in the USA, when in fact they were assembled and packaged here from completely foreign made parts. At this point the Made in USA label means almost nothing because the guidelines are so broad and companies have so taken advantage of it. Likewise if you were to enforce your guidelines I’d guess that 80% of the products that currently have the made in USA label would no longer be allowed to do so. That said I truly hope the trend of rising manufacturing costs in Asia brings more manufacturing work home. I work in manufacturing and see no reason why we shouldn’t be making more of the products the world buys here. Especially Hi-tech and durable goods.

  3. 3 Rodent Sep 19th, 2012 at 10:38 am

    Made in America by American Citizens? NOT! We’re screwed by the scumbags we send to Washington!”@

  4. 4 tattooeddmike Sep 19th, 2012 at 10:41 am

    Made it the U.S.A. should mean just that! No more double talk and All Product or Materials as well as the Manufacturing Process in complete should be done in the United States! PERIOD! I agree with Will, that government should remove it self from labeling products that only confuse consumers with double talk, if products and materials as well as labor are produced here in whole then and only then should it be labled:
    Made In The U.S.A.
    Just my humble opinion.

  5. 5 Brandon Sep 19th, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Interesting. So, Harley can’t stick the label “Made in USA” And Victory?

  6. 6 Matt Sep 19th, 2012 at 11:27 am

    Brandon. I don’t believe that that Victory could either but it’s never exactly been a big part of their marketing to begin with.

  7. 7 Sep 19th, 2012 at 11:33 am

    Been this way for over 20 yrs. peace

  8. 8 Chris Sep 19th, 2012 at 11:40 am

    Be careful about insisting that the government remove itself from the labeling process. I’m sure the rules aren’t in place because the bureaucrats had nothing better to do, but because manufacturers were using the “Made in the USA” label when perhaps it was inappropriate. It was necessitated that some guidelines be established to prevent questionable labeling by the manufacturer. Are the guidelines perfect? No. Can they be improved upon? Probably. Is it easy to establish such parameters in a globalized marketplace where some components aren’t available domestically or at a reasonable cost? No way.

  9. 9 Sep 19th, 2012 at 11:52 am

    I’m happy to say we can DEFINITELY tout our product being Made in the USA. It’s tough to compete with Chinese and Taiwanese junk on the shelves running at half price, but then again, try finding a part or a warranty repair in 6 months after you’ve bought it.

    Keep supporting the local shops, the Mom & Pop restaurants, and if you can afford it, always buy American made products….because the money that goes into those pockets will eventually be spent and come back around to YOUR business!

  10. 10 Toby Sep 19th, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    There are very few items that are 100% made in the USA. Besides finished parts, items such as steel and aluminum are often from overseas suppliers. Even if the metal is finished here in the U.S. it was probably smelted or recycled overseas. Aluminum especially. The US does not mine much aluminum. Anything that adds value to a component from overseas takes away an American Job. Not that Americans want all of these jobs, but the idea of a true 100% Made in the USA is mostly unattainable.

    A better focus on American manufacturing is to buy items from FAIR TRADE countries, not FREE TRADE countries. This means, Canada, most of Western Europe, some South American products, and even some products from Mexico. Nothing wrong with FAIR trade. A Brit buys a Harley, an American buys a Triumph. Easy enough to understand.

  11. 11 Ralph Sep 19th, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    A prime example is the Honda VTX 1300. Country of origin; USA. Made of Canadian , Japanese and American parts and put together by American Labor. The parts books don’t say made in America…it’s “Country of Origin”. This applies to any thing that is assembled here. “Made in America” should be reserved for those products that are solely made of all American material.

  12. 12 Ralph Sep 19th, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    What year was it that Harley Davidson started using Japanese Hitatchi starters and solenoids? I was told that it was prior to AMF buying HD in the 1970s.

  13. 13 Mark Pavlica Sep 19th, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    We are currently at 99% and could be at 100% if an American company had the balls to produce 100% made in America ball bearings. Any takers?

  14. 14 spaz Sep 19th, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Victory = 20% more American-made components than Harley. ‘Nuff said.

  15. 15 Chris Sep 19th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    @Mark Pavlica
    I think you raise an interesting point that may expose a weakness of American industry. Perhaps there is a reader who is better informed than I about the American steel industry who may be able to set me straight or offer more insight, but my understanding is that the American steel industry is so antiquated that the quality of our steel pales in comparison to that of other countries like Japan. As such, the American product that would be used in domestic ball bearing production would likely be inferior to those sourced from overseas.

    I’d love for somebody to tell me I’m wrong here. If anybody has any more knowledge of the industry, perhaps they can enlighten us.

  16. 16 Mike Greenwald Sep 20th, 2012 at 7:05 am

    “You didn’t build that” – Barack Hussein Obama

  17. 17 Sep 20th, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Everything we make is made from 100% American materials, machined by Americans and assembled by Americans… in America. It will stay that way for as long as I live, and hopefully I’ve taught my grandchildren enough so that it stays that way long after I’m dead and gone.

  18. 18 Brian J Sep 20th, 2012 at 7:59 am

    I think Toby has a good point. Fair Trade is probably the way and what we should be focusing on. Since it is a reality that in a global world economy, not everyone wants to mine bauxite or work at a blast furnace. I see this as a win – win. Unfortunately Fair Trade makes our corporate masters unhappy because they can not longer drive down wages to maximize their share return. Profit is fine and very American. Record breaking quarterly profit is our undoing. See greed in the dictionary for details. YMMV.

  19. 19 Maddpuppy Sep 20th, 2012 at 8:07 am

    I agree with Rodent !

  20. 20 Trail Boss Sep 20th, 2012 at 8:29 am

    Toby said, “…but the idea of a true 100% Made in the USA is mostly unattainable.”

    Ah, there’s the rub. Local raw materials, locally manufactured, and assembled in the USA has become mostly unattainable. What a shame and ultimately, self destructive. I suppose I would rather have American workers getting paid assembling parts from overseas rather than have the USA as the country of origin but assembled overseas. At least we get the tax revenue to add to our ever burgeoning federal debt.

  21. 21 Uncle Sam Sep 20th, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Buy S&S products they are machined, and Assembled in Viola, WI, Their Castings and Forgings come from local suppliers in the Midwest. True American product built by Americans.

  22. 22 Sep 20th, 2012 at 10:59 am

    How about “Made in TEXAS!” works for us!

  23. 23 Shanedrive Sep 20th, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Uncle Sam-yep, been there, worked there and saw it w/my own 2 eyeballs. 100% american made stuff!
    I like my ol’ 76 FLH. I can’t verify everything OEM is originally is USA and there’s a few pieces parts that have worn out and the only replacements I could get are overseas. Front brake switches and the button switches for example. Since the OEM’s wore out (took almost 30 years) i’ve had to install import P.O.S.’s. Bet I’ve replaced a couple of ’em twice in the last 6 years. I’ve given up on the front B-light switch. Those f’ers always take a digger………everytime!! Still have the Hydra glide forks. They work jus’ fine by me! Also replaced the 4spd (Mine blew apart due to my own damn negligence….plumber’s faucet, shoemaker’s kids etc) w/Baker’s new 4spd. That is one nice unit!!! AND American made dammit!

  24. 24 richard Sep 20th, 2012 at 7:50 pm

    I wonder what the factual information for American content is for various bikes. Does Victory really have 20% more American content than Harley??? If someone can identify an reliable source that actually knows the content (part’s and parts labor) I’d like to read about it. I frequently see numbers thrown out by both sides but none of them quote their source. I’ve done a couple of searches butcan’t find anything factual. I don’t think the bike builders are very free with this information. One thing we know for sure is that Harley and Victory have MUCH more American content than any bikes built overseas.


  25. 25 nicker Sep 20th, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    – When the Chinese economy tanks.
    – When the Euro collapses.
    – When our debt can no longer be exported.

    At that point a Global Depression will reset the “Global Economy,” back into independent National economies.

    Each economy will once again be based on an individual Nation’s ability to create, produce, and consume.

    Trade will be based on one Nation’s need and ability to pay/exchange for another Nations resource,. nothing more, nothing less.

    There will always be some people who try to “complicate” this process in order to game-the-system for various reasons.
    When discovered, they should be shot…… “period”

    There is no more “go west young man.”
    However, there is “go up young man.”
    It’s time for this Nation to save it’s treasure to go out into the cosmoses.”
    (without OhBummer’s Muslims)

    The era of Globalism is over.
    Let the era of Cosmology begin.


  26. 26 BobS Sep 21st, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Anyone claiming Victory is 20% more American is full of crap. Now 20% better, hell, 40-60% better I could go along with lol, but motorcycle manufacturers are not required and DO NOT release parts content info. It’s one thing to say everything we buy should be 100% American sourced and produced, but upon closer inspection this can result in the opposite of the desired result. For instance, let’s say Harley or Victory were to ditch all foreign suppliers and rely completely U.S. suppliers. How much more does that wire harness, brake caliper, switches and light housings, etc cost? IS there even a US manufacturer making those or has the capacity to make enough? What happens to Harley sales if the cost of a Street Glide that’s 100% Made in America now costs 40,000 dollars and Victory’s Cross Country costs 39,000? Well, most likely that means victory goes out of business and Harley becomes a niche toy manufacturer selling about 10% of what they do now. How many American manufacturing jobs are lost because we tried to make everything 100% American??? The system as its working can actually increase, not decrease the number of US manufacturing jobs.

  27. 27 richard Sep 21st, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Nicker…are you related to Rodent?

  28. 28 Billy Bartels Sep 24th, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Yeah, I giggled recently when I read a list of the “Most American cars made,” and 6 of 10 were foreign brands. If I recall, it was mostly Toyotas and Hondas with a couple of Korean makes tossed in.

    Despite what the motorcycle brands (and Internet posters) will tell you, you have to let the government know what is made where, so it’s kinda awesome that the foreign brands actually source more stuff here than the Americans do, by and large. Funny enough, Canadian parts count as “American.” If I were Mexican, I’d be pissed.

    You can find the American Automobile Labeling Act here:

    But as this article points out:

    American manufacturers actually do more design and office work here, which are also typically high-paying jobs…. Not that the Japanese don’t design stuff here too. Anybody who’s seen Toyota’s and Honda’s Southern California headquarters (practically next door to each other in Torrance) would have a hard time saying these are just fly-by-night foreigners dumping their junk here.

  29. 29 BikerDawg Sep 24th, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    This is NOT a Harley bashing comment, but an eye opening comment. In August 2010 while enroute with the American Legion Legacy Ride, I personally toured the Harley factory in Kansas City, where Dyna’s and V-Rods. The frames where cut and welded by robots on the site (cool to watch) but nearly everything else I saw came out of crates and boxes that said “Made in Taiwan”, “Made in China”, or “Made in Mexico”. I was shocked by this and even more shocked when I saw huge “Hyundai” shipping containers out back of the factory, but it was explained that Hyundai builds the containers as well as most of the big ships the goods ship on. So H-D may have it’s mother office in Milwaukee, it may have been designed by Wille G. himself, and it may be “ASSEMBLED” in USA, but it sure isn’t “Made in USA”!!

  30. 30 Sharrack Sep 26th, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Just found a Von Dutch mechanics jacket at goodwill for 9 bucks.
    Label inside reads:
    Made with American hands in the U.S.A.

    Prety much all aftermarket parts are imported.
    You’ll know the American stuff….twice the price.

    I almost passed out when i found one of those little made in taiwan stickers under my front forks!

  31. 31 Sep 29th, 2012 at 7:15 am

    not that i give any credit to Washington….but i think its amusing to hear people blame it on the government. It is ultimately in the hands of the consumer, or simply they can’t sell what we’re not buying. The government didnt put Wal-Mart in your town, YOU DID

  32. 32 Kim of Copenhagen Nov 15th, 2012 at 11:19 am

    C’mon guys, the world of manufacturing is so interconnected, that the label ‘made in the USA’ (or whereever) can never be 100 % correct. Requiring – say – that Harleys use American made carbs or should be designed on American made computers make no sense. At best you can talk about a certain percentage of a product being made locally, and even then you have to decide whether that percentage is based on weight, number of parts or value.

    PS Decades ago many Japanese companies officially had their headquarters in the Japanese town called Usa. Guess what they then were able to write on their products?

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