Common Names Take Priority in Congress

August 30th, 2020

At the beginning of this year, CCFN formed a cross-sector coalition of supporters of common food names and wine terms. The goal was to take targeted action to spur Congress to urge this Administration, as well as future ones, to match the EU’s aggressive and predatory stance on GIs with new ideas and policy tools to most effectively defend U.S. companies’ rights to use common food and wine terms.

In July, CCFN secured a key win, as 61 Senators sent a bipartisan Senate letter to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue urging that the U.S. government enhance their common food name and wine term protections as a core policy objective in all trade-related discussions. Sens. John Thune (R-SD), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) led this effort.

It appears that this message has been clearly received. USTR Lighthizer made explicit note of the EU’s anti-trade GI campaign in a recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, writing, “The EU uses its trade deals in many cases not to advance trade liberalization, but to force other countries to adopt thinly veiled protectionist measures like ‘geographic indications,’ which prohibit the use of common labeling terms for wine and food items produced outside the EU.”

The pervasive nature of the EU’s agenda was echoed in CCFN Executive Director Jaime Castaneda’s statement on the Senate letter. “The United States has been fighting the EU’s unfair GI trade policies with one hand tied behind its back while the EU has been battling with its full force. This unbalanced approach has helped the EU in its efforts to block U.S. exports of products using common food and wine terms, causing serious harm to America’s farmers, ranchers, food manufacturers and exporters,” Castaneda said. Read the full joint statement here.

This letter was made possible through close coordination with member organizations the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF), the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC) and the North American Meat Institute (NAMI), as well as allies at the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF), the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), and the Wine Institute (WI).