A coalition of farm and agricultural groups — including the U.S. Dairy Export Council, National Milk Producers Federation, the Consortium for Common Food Names, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the North American Meat Institute, and the American Farm Bureau Federation — is applauding a bipartisan letter sent today by 111 members of Congress urging stronger protections for American-made food and wine exports using common terms. This is an important message regarding the need for enhanced U.S. efforts to combat the European Union’s (EU) attempts to ban U.S. exports of cheese, meat and wine products that are labeled with common terms – such as parmesan, bologna or chateau, the groups said.

“Congress has spoken loudly; it is time for stronger action by the U.S. government,” said Jaime Castaneda, executive director of the Consortium for Common Food Names. “For far too long, Europe has used unjustified trade barriers to block competition from high-quality American-made cheese, meat and wine exports. Europe is undermining global trade rules and weakening intellectual property system protections internationally. Today’s letter is an important reminder that we must raise the bar in our efforts in order to prevail in creating agricultural trade policy that works for the world, not just the European Union.”

The letter asks the U.S. Trade Representative and USDA to make safeguarding common food and wine terms a core policy objective in all current and future trade negotiations. The effort was led by Reps. Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Jodey Arrington (R-Texas), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.) and Mike Kelly (R-Pa.).

“The EU’s ban on common cheese terms has already impeded U.S. dairy exports, but even more severe consequences for our industry lie ahead if the EU is allowed to continue these unfair trade practices,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of U.S. Dairy Export Council. “Preserving export opportunities for American-made cheeses and other products labeled with common terms must take priority in all future trade negotiations. I applaud Congress and the leaders of this effort for setting this important precedent in defense of American-made exports,”

Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation, noted that the EU’s efforts to limit market opportunities for U.S. dairy products have hurt dairy farmers.

“For years, the EU has sought to ban high-quality American-made cheeses, putting U.S. dairy jobs at risk and limiting economic growth in the rural communities that rely on a healthy dairy industry,” he said. “I appreciate the important work being done by Congress to ensure that U.S. trade negotiators must have all necessary tools at their disposal to fight back against the EU’s destructive agenda.”