Longtime Common Names Advocate Jaime Castaneda Testifies Before Office of the U.S. Trade Representative

ARLINGTON, VA – Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) executive director Jaime Castaneda testified yesterday before U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) trade policy staff on the need for the U.S. government to proactively secure protections from trading partners that guarantee the right of producers to use common food and beverage names, such as “parmesan” or “feta.”

The public hearing complemented USTR’s annual Special 301 review, which aims to identify countries that are inadequately defending intellectual property (IP) rights. This review then informs USTR’s engagement on IP issues for the following year.

CCFN, with the support of its members and the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers, responded to the agency’s request for information in January, submitting comments that emphasized the need for the U.S. government on this issue, and reiterated how producers on-the-ground are negatively impacted when the European Union confiscates common names. Based on extensive research and feedback from membership, CCFN also detailed the specific markets that the Administration should prioritize work in to preserve export opportunities.

In his testimony today, Castaneda detailed how the European Union misuses geographical indications and why producers and exporters need the U.S. government to match the EU’s efforts on common names.

“The United States has unmatched economic and political influence – now is the time to use it,” said Castaneda during the hearing. “We applaud the Biden Administration for increasing the awareness with other countries to respect our agreements and their Intellectual Property rules. Yet, there is much more that can be done, and the U.S. government must intensify its support of U.S. farmers’ and manufacturers’ ability to compete fairly in foreign markets by securing firm and explicit commitments ensuring the future ability to use commonly used generic food and beverage terms that are being targeted by or at risk of EU monopolization efforts.”

As part of its mission to preserve the right to use generic food and beverage names, CCFN has championed the Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act, introduced last year to spur greater Administration-led action on common names. The SAVE Act has garnered broad industry and congressional support and is awaiting inclusion in the farm bill.

Read CCFN’s full comments here.