Its Geopolitical Relevance Fading, European Union Clings to Cheese Names
March 18, 2014 - 6:00 pm
American cheese-makers say proposed EU-restrictions on cheese names are no “gouda” here.
On Tuesday, Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) hosted the Connecticut Cheese Challenge at Sankow’s Beaver Brook Farm in Lyme, Conn. Local farmer Suzanne Sankow says the senator was on hand to decide which feta was beta: Sankow’s own farm-fresh variety or the European-made version.
Sen. Murphy and the cheese makers milked the stunt to draw attention to European Union efforts to limit American farmers’ use of common cheese names like gouda, feta, parmesan and cheddar. The E.U. says these names are geographical indications, and should only be used for products made in certain regions.
But American cheese-makers and politicians say the restrictions are sour.
“In country after country, the E.U. has been using its free trade agreements (FTAs) to persuade its trading partners to impose barriers to U.S. exports under the guise of protection for its geographical indications,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) wrote in an open letter, which was signed by over 50 other senators.
The E.U. has already imposed restrictions on U.S. companies’ ability to sell cheeses like parmesan and feta under those names in Canada and South Korea, says Chris Galen, spokesman for the National Milk Producers Federation.
Few things will put me on Chuck Schumer’s side but you do not mess with my cheese. Maybe we should remind the ingrates that all of these “regional” cheeses would now have German names if it weren’t for the United States.