If you can’t call Parmesan cheese…Parmesan cheese…then what do you call it? That is a question that companies could find themselves asking in the future because of a trade deal the European Union (EU) is working out with Mexico.
“The EU has been very aggressive in negotiating free trade agreements, recently concluding one with Japan and now Mexico, and in both cases they basically—in the dairy industry—provided and where given an opportunity to essentially create a monopoly in the use of certain cheese names,” said Tom Vilsack, president and CEO of the U.S. Dairy Export Council (USDEC).
As it stands, the language in the EU deal with Mexico prevents any further imports from calling their product Parmesan, even if it is. This is just one example of where Vilsack said the EU is going too far.
“It gives the EU a leg up,” said Vilsack, “This is an incredibly important market for us. It’s our number one dairy market. We sell a great deal of product, well over $1billion of product a year into Mexico, so it’s important for us to preserve as much of that market opportunity as we can.”
NAFTA is also a trouble spot for dairy exports, and Canada is the biggest concern. Vilsack said this is because they have ramped up production of butter fat, which has left them with a surplus of powder, that they are then selling at far lower prices that everybody else. He said this is part of the ongoing negotiations.
The House version of the farm bill will be on the floor May 7th.
“Unfortunately, the farm bill has turned into that—it’s more about nutrition programs than it is about agriculture,” said Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.) on AgriTalk
On the show, Missouri Corn Growers Association board member Morris Heitman viewed the farm bill as moving in the right direction.
“Being a former FSA county director, I notice it appears to be one that is somewhat just finetuning the existing farm bill, which is good, I think, in that regard,” he said.
“When you walk away from the table and throw your arms up in the air and just choose not to support it, that’s just pure obstructionism,”, said Graves, “Regardless, we are going to run the bill as it is,”.
Hard Winter Wheat Tour
Next week will be the first crop tour from commodity groups this year.
The Wheat Quality Council (WQC) is sending almost 100 people scouting fields for the Hard Winter Wheat Tour.
“We are very cognizant of the fact that there is a long way to go, this is at best a snap shot of what we’re going to see,”
said David Green, WQC executive vice president.
He also noted that weather this year has definitely effected the crop, and estimated its at least three weeks behind.
AgriTalk will follow up with the Wheat Quality Control Council next week.
Click on the player above to listen to the full AgriTalk discussion.