Geographic Indicators Baloney, Lawmakers Say


A bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmaker introduced legislation yesterday to prevent geographical indications from being used as agricultural trade barriers by creating a list of common names.

The bill would amend the Agriculture Trade Act of 1978 to include and define a list of common names for agricultural commodities, food products and terms used in marketing and packaging of products.

It also would direct the Secretary of Agriculture and the US Trade Representative to negotiate with US foreign trading partners to defend the right to use common names for agricultural commodities in those same foreign markets.

The Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act. is cosponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD).

“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,” Sen. Thune said.

Common food and drink names such as parmesan, chateau and bologna are used around the world to describe products to consumers. However, the European Union has begun using economic and political influence to implement unfair trade practices under the guise of protecting geographic indicators, the lawmakers said. These unfair trade practices have the potential to block United States agricultural products from being sold in international markets.

The bill is being cosponsored by Reps. Jim Costa (D-Calif), Michelle Fischbach (R-Minn) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif) and Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis), Roger Marshall (R-Kans) and Tina Smith (D-Minn).


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