A bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced the Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act this week. The legislation seeks to establish a list of common names for a variety of ag commodities and food products. Not only would the SAVE Act assign definitions to common names, but the Secretary of Agriculture and U.S. Trade Representative would also have to defend the right to use those common names in foreign markets.
Commonly used terms including “parmesan” and “chateau” can become problematic in certain export markets. Supporters of the bill say that the European Union has been abusing geographic indicators to keep American products at a disadvantage. The bill is being led by U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson, Jim Costa, Michelle Fischbach, and Jimmy Panetta, along with U.S. Senators John Thune, Tammy Baldwin, Roger Marshall, and Tina Smith.
“Monopolizing common food names could have major ramifications on American producers and our food supply chain,” said Representative Costa. “This bipartisan bill will protect American goods from unfair trading practices, that could minimize access to global markets and increase costs for consumers.”
Several agricultural industry groups have also expressed support for the SAVE Act. Executive Director of the Consortium for Common Food Names, Jaime Castaneda said the legislation is a “much-needed step in the right direction.” The American Farm Bureau Federation, the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, and the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture have also endorsed the effort.
“When the right to use common cheese names is stripped by foreign governments, the harm ripples throughout the entire dairy supply chain,” said Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation. “This legislation will raise the ambition of the U.S. government to preserve the rights of U.S. dairy producers to continue using cheese names long established as generic.”