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NMPF-Led Common Names Legislation Introduced in Congress

June 8, 2023

NMPF, working in collaboration with the Consortium for Common Food Names (CCFN) and the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC), spurred the May 17 introduction of the bipartisan Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports (SAVE) Act, a milestone in the organizations’ efforts to preserve common cheese names in export markets around the world.

Outlined and supported by NMPF, CCFN and USDEC, the SAVE Act would amend the Agricultural Trade Act of 1978 in two keys ways by:

  • Explicitly defining “common names” as a term ordinarily used for marketing a food product, as determined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA);
  • Defining foreign restrictions of those common names as an unfair trade practice; and
  • Directing USDA to “coordinate with the U.S. Trade Representative to proactively defend the right to use common names for agricultural commodities or food products in their markets” through various negotiating tools.

The legislation calls for USDA and USTR to use bilateral, plurilateral, or multilateral agreements, memoranda of understanding, and other instruments to ensure that American dairy and other agricultural producers will be able to use the common names in food and beverage exports.

Led in the Senate by Sens. John Thune, R-SD, Tammy Baldwin, D-WI, Roger Marshall, R-KS, and Tina Smith, D-MN, and in the House by Reps. Dusty Johnson, R-SD, Jim Costa, D-CA, Michelle Fischbach, R-MN, and Jimmy Panetta, D-CA,, NMPF plans to work with the bill’s leads to ensure the legislative text is captured in the Farm Bill. That would mark the first farm bill effort on common names.

Given the outsized impact that illegitimate geographical indications have on American cheesemakers, the SAVE Act signifies a much-needed development that would benefit the U.S. dairy industry should it become law. NMPF will continue to work with its allied organizations and supporting members to ensure passage of this important new tool.