Congress and Food Producers Insist on Need for Robust U.S. Steps to Protect Common Names

March 2nd, 2023

ARLINGTON, VA – The Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) and Agri-Pulse joined congressional leaders on Capitol Hill today to discuss the efforts by certain trading partners to monopolize common food and beverage names under the guise of deeming them geographical indications. The event highlighted the need for more focused and assertive U.S. government actions to counter these growing trade barriers and protect the rights of American producers.

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Senator Roger Marshall (R-KS), Representative Jim Costa (D-CA) and Representative Adrian Smith (R-NE) joined CCFN members and partners to underscore the importance of a strong and coordinated U.S. government response to protect American farmers and businesses from unfair competition arising from GI abuse. Joining the lawmakers in calling for increased U.S. engagement on the issue were Jeff Schwager, CCFN Chairman; Charles Jefferson, VP for Federal & International Public Policy for the Wine Institute; Derek Sohnrey, California rice producer representing USA Rice; and Michael Schumpp, Director of International Affairs for North American Meat Institute; and Chad Vincent, CEO of Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin.

Jaime Castaneda, Executive Director of CCFN, noted that, “The European Union has been the principal culprit in seeking to monopolize the use of generic terms such as “parmesan,” “bologna,” and “chateau” by not only barricading its own market against use of the common terms but also deploying trade negotiations to incite other countries to impose similar bans on legitimate competition in their own markets… Others have followed suit; for instance, India has sought to restrict the use of the widely known rice varieties “basmati”. These tactics harm the ability of U.S. producers to compete fairly around the world.”

The event participants underscored the need for the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to proactively establish with U.S. trading partners strong protections for common names, using whatever tools are necessary to preserve access for U.S. exports to those markets.

“We thank Senators Baldwin and Marshall and Representatives Smith and Costa for their leadership in protecting the rights of American farmers and food producers to use product names that have been in the public domain for generations,” said Castaneda. “The bipartisan message today rang loud and clear: The U.S. will not tolerate the EU’s efforts to bar U.S. companies from global customers by misappropriating widely used common names, and immediate actions are needed by the U.S. government to effectively tackle the EU’s harmful tactics.”