Senator Baldwin Leads Bipartisan Effort to Protect Made in Wisconsin Food Products from Unfair Trade Tactics

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), John Thune (R-SD) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), along with 58 of their Senate colleagues, called on U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to protect American food producers from unfair trade initiatives that would require them to change the names of meat, cheese and wine they have made for decades.

The recent United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA) included important safeguards to protect products using common food names such as bologna, parmesan and feta. However, countries outside of North America have been exploiting protections meant for valid geographical indications in order to limit competition and block imports, which has a harmful effect on U.S. food producers and our agriculture economy.

“On behalf of the food and beverage manufacturers, producers, and exporters we represent, we write today to request that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) establish as a core U.S. policy objective in all trade-related discussions the goal of securing concrete market access assurances regarding specific common food names and wine grape varietal designations or traditional terms, including those of importance to cheese, meat, wine, and other food producers across the United States,” wrote the Senators in their letter.

The Senators continued, “Our competitors continue to employ trade negotiations around the world to prohibit American-made products from using common food names and wine grape varietal designations or traditional terms, such as bologna, parmesan, chateau, and feta, which have been in use for decades. Due to this continued practice by our competitors, we urge the administration to improve upon the template established in the USMCA negotiations and continue to prioritize market access and the ability of U.S. producers to use common food names in ongoing and future trade negotiations.”

The letter was signed by 30 Republican and 31 Democratic Senators and is also supported by the National Milk Producers Federation.

“The European Union has made it their mission to block exports of American-made food and wine products using common names. We are thankful for Sen. Baldwin's leadership in urging the U.S. government to meet the EU’s fervor for trade barriers with a consistent strategy to advance more equitable trade rules for common food and wine terms. The EU’s unfair trade policies harm American farmers, food manufacturers and consumers, and the importance of this letter is underscored by the overwhelming support it has received from a broad coalition of American food and wine producers,” said Jaime Castaneda, Senior Vice President of Policy Initiatives and International Trade, National Milk Producers Federation & U.S. Dairy Export Council.

The full letter is available here.