NMPF Work with Latin American Nations Leads to Favorable Policies on Food Names, WHO Guidelines

While in Cuba at the end of November, National Milk staff worked with the Pan American Dairy Federation (FEPALE) to advance U.S. dairy farmers’ interests in preserving global markets for U.S. cheeses and upholding science-based international standards that support the critical nutritional role of dairy.

More than a dozen Latin American countries attended FEPALE’s annual general assembly last week in Havana. While there, NMPF Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Jaime Castaneda discussed issues of mutual interest with counterparts from across the Americas. Because of those efforts, FEPALE passed two resolutions that align with key priorities for the U.S. dairy industry:

  • Rejection of the European Union’s (EU) aggressive stance regarding the treatment of geographical indications (GIs).  This is a topic of increasing relevance in Latin America, as the EU negotiates policies that benefit its own cheese products as it strikes deals with Mexico and the Mercosur bloc of countries, and prepares for talks with Chile in the near future. The resolution on current, past and future negotiations with the EU calls for no new GI restrictions on the use of commonly- used terms of importance to any country in the hemisphere.
  • Resisting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) efforts to inappropriately incorporate broad policy guidelines (like restricting the promotion of milk and milk products to young children) in the Codex Alimentarius standards-setting process. The FEPALE resolution emphasizes the need for Codex standards to be based on high-quality science and objective criteria, which were not the basis of the WHO guidelines developed in 2016. It requested that the governments of the region object to incorporating WHO’s guidance into Codex standards and “continue to work with Codex under historical guidelines based on scientific foundations.”

NMPF staff have been working over the last several years to build a strong partnership with FEPALE members, an investment that helped shape the resolutions and generate support for them last week.

“The EU’s GI scheme and the WHO guidelines significantly threaten dairy trade and – more broadly – consumption,” said Castaneda. “We are very pleased that FEPALE recognized the dangers and took a strong stand in both cases.”