If the European Union (EU) is successful in further expanding restrictions on the use of generic terms such as parmesan, asiago, and feta, a new study commissioned by the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the Consortium for Common Food Names forecasts severe consequences for U.S. cheese exports. The study, conducted by Informa Agribusiness Consulting, examines the potential impact of a hypothetical scenario requiring U.S. cheese makers to stop marketing common cheeses under newly protected names like “feta,” as well as the impact from select importers’ inability to import cheese under protected names from the U.S. The study predicts the dairy industry could see a dramatic drop in demand for U.S. cheeses, with prices falling 14 percent and resulting revenue losses between $9.5 billion and $20.2 billion depending on consumers’ willingness to pay for recognizable cheese names. The losses on U.S. cheese sales would also impact the entire dairy industry. During the first three years of Geographic Indications (GI) regulations restricting common names in the U.S., declining milk equivalent consumption would strongly pressure farm gate milk prices, which could fall by $0.97 per cwt. to $2.14 per cwt., leading to dairy farm revenue losses of $9.5 billion to $20.2 billion. “The European Union has repeatedly targeted the U.S. dairy industry by undermining our ability to freely use generic cheese names in foreign markets,” said Tom Vilsack, chairman and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council. “The United States must make it abundantly clear that attempts to restrict common names in our domestic market will be met with swift and forceful opposition.”

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