Thune, Johnson sign on to bill protecting U.S. food exports

May 18, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Today, Members of the U.S. House and Senate introduced the bipartisan, bicameral Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act to protect American food products from unfair trade practices by foreign countries. The bill was led by U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-S.D.), Jim Costa (D-CA), Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) in the House and U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Roger Marshall (R-KS), and Tina Smith (D-MN) in the Senate.

Common food and drink names such as parmesan, chateau, 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 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.

“Requiring U.S. producers to change the names of their food is confusing for consumers and costly to producers and manufacturers,” said Johnson. “The SAVE Act ensures American producers retain vital access to foreign markets in a time that may be more critical than ever.”

“Monopolizing common food names could have major ramifications on American producers and our food supply chain,” said Costa. “This bipartisan bill will protect American goods from unfair trading practices, that could minimize access to global markets and increase costs for consumers.”

“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 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 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.”

“For years, the European Union has abused geographical indicators as a non-tariff trade barrier, limiting U.S. agriculture export opportunities simply because they rely on using common food names that have been established for decades,” said Fischbach. “The SAVE Act protects common names to ensure U.S. agriculture products can be sold worldwide. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation that will help restore market access.”

“American producers face barriers in getting their agricultural products to global consumers due to unreasonable trade restrictions on common, descriptive terms,” said Panetta. “I’m proud to co-lead this bipartisan legislation that would empower the United States Trade Representative and Secretary of Agriculture to negotiate fairer trade agreements that give American producers equal footing in these markets. While geographical indicators are important to maintaining the character, quality, and pride of products from our community, we can continue to protect those markers without allowing discrimination against American products.”

“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 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.”

“South Dakota Dairy Producers applauds Senator Thune and Representative Johnson for bringing forward the Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act, along with the National Milk Producers Federation for raising the issue to the forefront,” said Marv Post, Chair of the South Dakota Dairy Producers. “Roughly 1 in 6 tankers of U.S. Milk is exported, which shows the importance of fair treatment in a global market. Unfair trade practices imposed by U.S. trading competition has falsely protected common names, especially for cheese varieties, and U.S. dairy farmers are at a competitive disadvantage. This bill takes a big step forward to combat the abuse of common names so that U.S. dairy exports have a level playing field and access to all key international markets.”

“When the right to use common cheese names is stripped by foreign governments, the harm ripples throughout the entire dairy supply chain,” explained Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of National Milk Producers Federation. “The dairy producer community thanks Senators Thune and Baldwin and Representatives Johnson, Costa, Fischbach and Panetta for their introduction of the bipartisan SAVE Act today. 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. We look forward to continuing to work with USDA, USTR and our allies in American agriculture to ensure that U.S. dairy farmers and cooperatives can compete on a level playing field around the world.”