WASHINGTON, April 9, 2014 - A bipartisan group of 45 senators warned Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman last week that a wide-ranging free trade agreement with Europe could limit market access for U.S. producers of bologna and black forest ham.
The reason? Europeans are hoping to use the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) to limit American marketers’ access to common food names that also refer to the places where foods were originally – but no longer solely – produced.
The contested food names, or “geographical indicators” (GI), also include cheeses like “parmesan” and “feta.”
“In the states we represent, businesses – many small to medium-size and family owned – could have their businesses unfairly restricted by the EU’s push to use GIs as a barrier to trade and competition,” the senators wrote in a letter to the government officials. Signees included Agriculture Committee members Pat Roberts, R-Kan., Sherrod Brown, R-Ohio, and Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa.
We are concerned that these restrictions would particularly impact smaller businesses who specialize in artisan and other specialty meat products such as bratwurst, kielbasa, wiener schnitzel and various sausages,” the senators said.
In a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Undersecretary for Farm and Foreign Agricultural Services Michael Scuse said USDA understands the implications of the TTIP GI fight. “Our negotiators take this issue very, very seriously,” Scuse said in response to a question from Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif., on behalf of the dairy industry. “I know that your comments have been received by our negotiators at USTR and USDA,” Scuse said.
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