Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-MN) joined Senators John Thune (R-SD), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Roger Marshall (R-KS) in introducing bipartisan legislation to protect American food products from unfair trade practices by foreign countries.
Common food and drink names such as parmesan, asiago, romano, and bologna are used around the world to describe products to consumers. However, due to geographic indication to European locations, the European Union has begun using economic and political influence to implement unfair trade practices under the guise of protecting geographic indicators. These unfair trade practices have the potential to block United States agricultural products from being sold in international markets.
The Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act would amend the Agriculture Trade Act of 1978 to include and define a list of common names for ag commodities, food products, and terms used in marketing and packaging of products. The bill would also direct the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate with our foreign trading partners to defend the right to use common names for ag commodities in those same foreign markets.
“Agriculture is the backbone of Minnesota’s diverse economy and international markets are vital to the economic success of our farmers,” said Senator Smith. “Unfair trade policies from the European Union forcing American producers to change the name of their product will hurt our farmers and their ability to sell products overseas. This legislation would ensure they are able to continue selling their products in foreign markets and grow their businesses.”
“By exploiting valid geographical indication protections, global competitors have for decades tried to limit competition, block imports, and restrict American-made products from being able to use common food and beverage names,” said Senator Thune. “I’m proud to lead this effort in the Senate to help level the playing field for U.S. producers by ensuring they can use common food names and preserve and expand foreign market access for their products.”
“Our Made in Wisconsin agricultural and food products are rightfully world-renowned for their quality. But, when foreign countries penalize our producers for using common names like parmesan or cheddar, their unfair trade practices stunt the growth of Made in Wisconsin businesses on the international market,” said Senator Baldwin. “That’s why I’m proud to support this bipartisan legislation that ensures Wisconsin producers and farmers can continue to compete internationally, grow their businesses and keep Wisconsin on the map around the world.”
“If the EU were to have it their way, Americans would no longer be able to drink champagne while eating gouda and prosciutto on crackers here in America,” said Senator Marshall. “While this may at first seem like a small attack on the hors d’oeuvres industry, the consequences of the EU getting their way would go well beyond the charcuterie board. They would close off the global market to new entrants and create trade barriers to reduce competition, control prices and create mass consumer confusion. The SAVE Act will ensure that the U.S. government fights back against the EU’s campaign to ban U.S. market exports.”
U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Jim Costa (D-CA), Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) introduced companion the legislation in the House.
You can find more information on the bill here.