U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin continued her efforts to protect Wisconsin and American dairy and cheese producers, meat manufacturers and brewers from trade initiatives that would change the common names for meats, cheeses, and beers Wisconsinites enjoy every day. Senator Baldwin called on the U.S. Senate Finance Committee to reject any efforts that would restrict the ability of Wisconsin producers to use the generic names that they have used for generations.
“Wisconsin has a long tradition and proud reputation in our cheese making, meat producing and beer brewing. These industries are vital to our state’s economy and our heritage,” said Senator Baldwin. “Current trade negotiations threaten not only the names of common state products, but also key drivers of our Wisconsin economy. We must reject any proposal that limits our Wisconsin businesses’ ability to export and compete both domestically and internationally. I am standing up for Wisconsin beer, brats and cheese.”
Currently, the Finance Committee is crafting legislation to direct the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) in its negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Treaty and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Senator Baldwin requested the legislation include clear language instructing the USTR negotiators to oppose any attempts to limit the ability of American producers to use common food names. If the United States were to be subjected to a ban of these traditional names for various products, consumers may be confused and Wisconsin dairy farmers, meat producers and beer brewers could suffer.
In the letter to U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR), Senator Baldwin wrote: “In Wisconsin, businesses—many small, medium, or family owned—could have their livelihoods destroyed by unfair and unreasonable attempts to use GIs as a barrier to trade and competition… These restrictions will limit competition, increase prices, and give consumers fewer choices of products they have grown accustomed to.”
In 2014, Senator Baldwin led multiple bipartisan efforts to protect Wisconsin producers. In a bipartisan letter signed by more than 40 of her Senate colleagues, Senator Baldwin urged the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the USTR to fight European Union (EU) efforts to prohibit American meat producers from using a number of common meat names. Senator Baldwin sent a letter to USTR and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau with similar concerns regarding beer. Following those actions, Senator Baldwin also signed a letter with more than 50 of her Senate colleagues urging USDA and USTR to fight EU efforts to prohibit American dairy producers from using dozens of common cheese names such as asiago, feta, parmesan, and muenster. USTR Ambassador Michael Froman responded, stating that the USTR will continue to advance a robust trademark and common name agenda and look forward to working on together on the issue in the future.
An online version of the letter to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee can be found here.