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Ohio Sens. Brown, Portman say no whey to EU cheese changes

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"That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet," Shakespeare writes in Romeo and Juliet. If a rose by another name smells as sweet, can a cheese by another name taste as good?

Ohio's two U.S. Senators don't whey-in on the taste test, but they do whey-in on the harm it would cause Ohio and American dairy farmers if the European Union [EU] is allowed to protect geography based cheese names like asiago, parmesan and others. They say no whey.

Ohio senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), reelected to a second term in 2012, and Rob Portman (R-OH), who will run for his second term in 2016, are doing something out of the ordinary, they're working together to protect dairy farmers and producers in Ohio and across the country from a European initiative that would change common names for cheeses frequently purchased by Americans.

Information from Sen. Brown's office released Wednesday said the two have signed a bipartisan letter by more than 50 of their Senate colleagues, which urges the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to fight EU efforts to prohibit American dairy producers from using dozens of common cheese names. The EU claims that dairy products baring names such as asiago, feta, parmesan, and muenster are “geographical indicators” and can only be appropriately displayed on products made in certain areas of Europe.

If the United States were to be subjected to a ban of these traditional brand names for various cheeses, consumers may be confused and American dairy farmers could suffer, the Buckeye State duo said.

"Ohio dairy producers make some of the highest quality cheese in the world," Brown said in prepared remarks today. "Their product is as good as any from Europe and should be given equal opportunity to compete in the food market," he added, declaring the USDA and USTR should stand up for American producers by standing up to the European Union.

"America’s dairy farmers and producers work hard to develop a product and brand that resonates with their customers," Portman chimed in. "If the EU succeeds in establishing trade guidelines that would restrict branding, it could hurt product sales and jobs here in Ohio," he said, adding that he's asking the Obama Administration to continue working aggressively to ensure the EU doesn’t impede U.S. businesses' ability to compete domestically or internationally."

Ohio Dairy Producers Association CEO Scott Higgins applauded the senators who often times find themselves on opposite sides of many issues. "Ohio’s dairy farmers appreciate the support of Senators Portman and Brown for looking out for the interests of dairy farmers and the cheese industry in Ohio," Higgins said. "We are grateful that our Senators see the potential harm that Ohio’s dairy industry could endure and for taking a stand against the EU’s efforts to restrict the use of commonly used cheese names by our cheese makers and enjoyed by Ohio’s consumers."

Other groups including the National Milk Producers Association, International Dairy Foods Association, U.S. Dairy Export Council, American Farm Bureau Federation, Kraft, Leprino Foods, and others support the efforts of Ohio's upper chamber members.

The news article Ohio Sens. Brown, Portman say no whey to EU cheese name changes appeared first on Columbus Government Examiner.

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