Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) today co-led a bipartisan letter that calls on the Administration to protect common food and wine terms in future trade discussions. The letter underscores concerns that the European Union misuses protections meant for Geographic Indicators (GI) to enact trade barriers to block American exports, and advocates for a consistent trade policy that prioritizes specific market access assurances for these products in all trade-related discussions. 

The lawmakers wrote, “The European Union has used GIs to raise trade barriers for products labeled with common food terms, as well as traditional wine terms. Examples include, but are not limited to, bologna, parmesan, chateau, and feta. We urge the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to draw upon the type of precedents and commitments established in the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA) to further strengthen protections for U.S. producers by negotiating agricultural market access safeguards for products marketed using specific common food terms, traditional terms, or legitimate plant and grape varietals in all future U.S. trade negotiations, particularly those of importance to U.S. cheese, meat, and wine producers.”

The letter, addressed to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, is part of an effort to ensure that American farmers and food producers have access to fair trade rules overseas.

This issue – keeping common cheese names available around the world – is crucial to the growth of Wisconsin’s $46 billion dairy farming and dairy manufacturing industry. Generations of Wisconsin cheesemakers craft cheese styles that rival or best European cheeses in international competitions. Cheese styles and names in use for decades, if not centuries, should not be taken away from America’s dairy industry as we build successful trade in global markets,” said John Umhoefer, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association.

Reps. Jim Costa (D-CA), Jodey Arrington (R-TX), Angie Craig (D-MN), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Ron Kind (D-WI), Mike Kelly (R-PA), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) joined Rep. Gallagher in leading the letter, which was signed by more than 100 members of the House.

The letter can be found here and full text of the letter is below: