Washington D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has led a bipartisan effort in the Senate to protect Wisconsin and American dairy and cheese producers, meat manufacturers and brewers from a European trade initiative that would change the common names for meats, cheeses, and beers Wisconsinites enjoy every day.
“Wisconsin has a long tradition and proud reputation in our cheese making, meat producing and beer brewing. These industries are vital to our state’s economy and our heritage,” said Senator Baldwin. “The current trade negotiations with the European Union threaten not only the names of common state products, but also key drivers of our Wisconsin economy. We must reject any proposal that limits our Wisconsin businesses’ ability to export and compete both domestically and internationally. I am standing up for Wisconsin brats, beer and cheese.”
In a bipartisan letter signed by more than 40 of her Senate colleagues, Baldwin urged the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to fight European Union (EU) efforts to prohibit American meat producers from using a number of common meat names. If successful, the EU could claim that meat products bearing names such as bratwurst, bologna, Black Forest ham, kielbasa, and wiener schnitzel are “geographical indicators” and can only be appropriately displayed on products made in certain areas of Europe.
- According to Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, meat processing is the 4th largest manufacturing industry in Wisconsin. The meat processing industry does $12.3 billion annually at 450 meat processing plants in the state.
Baldwin sent a letter to USTR and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau with similar concerns regarding beer. Baldwin expressed her concerns with trade negotiations that would in any way restrict the ability of U.S. brewers to use common beer names like Bavarian or Kolsch.
- According to the Beer Institute, the Wisconsin brewing industry supports 60,630 jobs in the state.
“Sprecher was the first brewery to open in Wisconsin since prohibition. Our Black Bavarian Style was the first beer we brewed and has been our signature product ever since. Our customers have come to expect the familiar bottle and label,” said Jeff Hamilton, President of Sprecher Brewing Company and President of the Wisconsin Brewers Guild. “We are grateful to Senator Baldwin for bringing this potential issue to the attention of Congress. Virtually every small brewer in the state makes a product that incorporates one of common names such as Octoberfest. The cost to change packaging and re-commission labels would be very damaging to these small businesses.”
Last month, Baldwin also signed a letter with more than 50 of her Senate colleagues urging USDA and USTR to fight EU efforts to prohibit American dairy producers from using dozens of common cheese names such as asiago, feta, parmesan, and muenster.
- According to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, 90 percent of Wisconsin’s milk goes to cheese production. And Wisconsin is the top cheese producer in the United States – producing 2.7 billion pounds of cheese each year, or 25 percent of all cheese produced in the United States.
- According to Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, 600 varieties of cheese are produced in Wisconsin, more than any other state or nation and Wisconsin produces 611 million pounds of specialty cheeses annually.
“Klondike Cheese Co. is already seeing the impact of the efforts by the EU to prevent US cheese manufactures and marketers from using common cheese names,” said Ron Buholzer, Master Cheese Maker and President, Klondike Cheese Co., Monroe, Wis. “The current trade strategy has even restricted some of our current efforts to expand our business into international markets. We appreciate Senator Baldwin’s support on this crucial issue.”
If the United States were to be subjected to a ban of these traditional names for various products, consumers may be confused and Wisconsin dairy farmers, meat producers and beer brewers could suffer.
Supporters of the letter regarding meats include: American Association of Meat Processors, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, Cargill Incorporated, Consortium for Common Food Names, Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Hormel Foods Corporation, International Dairy Foods Association, JBS USA, Kraft Foods Group, Inc. (Oscar Mayer), Massachusetts Food Association, National Association of Manufacturers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, North American Meat Association, Seaboard Corporation, Smithfield Foods, The Hillshire Brands Company, Tyson Foods, Inc., U.S. Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Dairy Export Council, and William James and Associates, LLC.
Supporters of the letter regarding beer include: The Beer Institute, The Brewers Association and
The Wisconsin Brewers Guild.