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Baldwin Joins Bipartisan Bill to Support Wisconsin Food Products, Protect from Unfair Trade

Bill would protect Made in Wisconsin businesses’ right to use common food names like “cheddar” in international markets

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin joined members of the U.S. House and Senate to introduce the Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act, bipartisan legislation to support Wisconsin food producers and protect their products from unfair trade practices by foreign countries.

Common food and drink names such as “parmesan,” “chateau,” and “bologna” are used around the world to describe products to consumers. However, because these common names have geographic ties to European locations, the European Union has begun using economic and political influence to implement unfair trade practices under the guise of protecting geographic indicators. These unfair trade practices have the potential to block United States’ agricultural products from being sold in international markets.

The SAVE Act would amend the Agriculture Trade Act of 1978 to include and define a list of common names for agricultural commodities, food products, and terms used in the marketing and packaging of products. The bill would also direct the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate with our foreign trading partners to defend the right to use common names for ag commodities in those same foreign markets.

“Our Made in Wisconsin agricultural and food products are rightfully world-renowned for their quality. But, when foreign countries penalize our producers for using common names like ‘parmesan’ or ‘cheddar,’ their unfair trade practices stunt the growth of Made in Wisconsin businesses on the international market,” said Senator Baldwin. “That’s why I’m proud to support this bipartisan legislation that ensures Wisconsin producers and farmers can continue to compete internationally, grow their businesses and keep Wisconsin on the map around the world.”

“Wisconsin dairy processors thank Sen. Tammy Baldwin, an impactful champion for our industry, and her Congressional colleagues for their effort to protect common food names. The SAVE Act pushes back on attempts from manufacturers in other countries to limit the use of terms like parmesan, asiago and fontina, protecting American dairy and agricultural producers’ fair access to worldwide markets,” said John Umhoefer, Executive Director of Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.

“When the right to use common cheese names is stripped by foreign governments, the harm ripples throughout the entire dairy supply chain,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation. “The dairy producer community thanks Senators Thune and Baldwin and Representatives Johnson, Costa, Fischbach and Panetta for their introduction of the bipartisan SAVE Act today. This legislation will raise the ambition of the U.S. government to preserve the rights of U.S. dairy producers to continue using cheese names long established as generic. We look forward to continuing to work with USDA, USTR and our allies in American agriculture to ensure that U.S. dairy farmers and cooperatives can compete on a level playing field around the world.”

Senator Baldwin was joined on the bill by U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Jim Costa (D-CA-16), Michelle Fischbach (R-MN-07), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-19) in the House and U.S. Senators John Thune (R-SD), Roger Marshall (R-KS), and Tina Smith (D-MN) in the Senate.

Full text of the legislation is available here.