A letter from Edge Dairy Farmer Cooperative, dated July 30, urges the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a core policy objective in trade discussions to secure market access assurances for what it said are common food names, which it said is important for dairy farmers and cheese processors.
The effort is directed at the European Union, which uses trade agreements to block American-produced cheese from using cheese names like feta, Parmesan and Gouda in international markets, as they have protected designation of origin (PDO) status.
US processors are forced to label their cheeses with non-traditional names, which the dairy group said are unfamiliar to customers.
Most of the billions of pounds of milk that Edge members produce each year is made into cheese.
Brody Stapel, president of Edge, said, “Our dairy farmer members continue to emphasize the importance of expanding exports through free and fair trade agreements. The EU’s use of geographical indications to obstruct the use of common cheese names is a direct threat to our ability to increase dairy exports around the world. Establishing stronger safeguards against these anti-competitive tactics will help level the playing field.
“This is why we are extremely pleased that so many senators have endorsed this key objective. We thank each senator who signed on to the letter and we especially commend the work of Sens. Thune, Baldwin, Stabenow and Tillis to elevate this issue on behalf of our dairy farmers and cheese processors.
“As we come off the fresh implementation of the USMCA trade agreement, we look forward to further growing US dairy’s place in the global market. Support like this from those senators will greatly help.”