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Farmers mount 'buy American' campaign

Once the milo harvest is over, John Gott will turn his attention to the Control Import Corporation. As corporations go, CIC isn't exactly big time. It's nonprofit, started by Mr. Gott and four other Missouri farmers. Its products include lapel pins, decals, and key chains. This week it will diversify into place mats.

All of CIC's products carry the same message: ''Buy American.'' And the corporation's only goal is to get that message to the American people.

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''Imports are no bargain,'' says Gott, of Bragg City, Mo. ''When we (buy imports), we put an American out of a job.'' This year's estimated $130 billion trade deficit is too high, he says.

So the five farmers have pooled $2,600 to have ''Buy American'' lapel pins, decals, and key chains made up. The group hopes to sell enough of them to raise money for a media campaign. The place mats are destined for restaurants.

Many farmers are wary of protectionist measures, concerned that closing markets at home will cause retaliation against US agricultural exports - one of the few bright spots in the poor trade-balance picture. Last year, the US exported food and fiber worth $18.4 billion more than imports of like products, according to the Department of Commerce.

''There's just no control of imports in this country,'' he says. ''If I can put some steelworkers to work, they'll be my best customers. It will be better for our whole country.''

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