The International Dairy Foods Association, the US Dairy Export Council and the National Milk Producers Federation praised a bipartisan group of 26 senators for urging US negotiators to address the needs of agriculture—including key dairy issues—in any free trade agreement with the European Union.

In a letter to US Trade Representative Michael Froman, the senators noted that the United States’ share of the European agricultural import market is shrinking due to both tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.

They called out the need to address certification requirements on US dairy exports, as well as the EU’s efforts to capture the sole use of food names long considered generic in this country. US dairy producers and processors have relied for decades on well-established cheese names like parmesan, feta and asiago—now household favorites in the US. European authorities now argue these names can only appear on cheeses produced in the geographic regions they originated in such as Italy and Greece, blocking US sales of the products to the EU and affecting sales to various foreign markets. In addition, the EU is insisting the US government shoulder the costs to enforce protection for hundreds of EU geographical indications in the US domestic market.

The senators cited two earlier letters that urged negotiators to oppose European restrictions on the use of common food names. The senators argue the EU’s actions are undermining both current free trade agreements and those under negotiations. They added that the concerns cited in those letters had not been addressed so far in negotiations over the US-EU trade agreement, known officially as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP).

Both the United States and the European Union have pledged to conclude T-TIP negotiations this year. All three dairy organizations are very concerned that these critical dairy issues will not be appropriately resolved within that timeline.