by Ken Root
The U.S. Dairy Industry has been worried for years about European Countries demanding that U.S. Cheese makers stop calling their products by the original names based on Geographic Indicators. If that happens, Roqeufort could only come from France not Wisconsin. Gorgonzola only from Italy. That’s no gouda, for California and could make Iowa blue. The loss could reach far more broadly than cheese makers.
Informa Economics has released a study on the effect protecting geographic indicators would have on the dairy industry and the economy. According to the study, if European Union protection of cheeses, based on geographic indicators, were implemented, more than half of U.S. Cheese production would have to be renamed.
Nate Denay, Director of Dairy Services with Informa Economics says the low end of impacts to the dairy industry could be an eight percent drop in cheese consumption. According to Denay the high end of the impacts could lead to an 850,000 head reduction in the U.S. dairy herd.
Denay says the harm would not be limited to just the dairy sector. As the impacts on dairy ripple through industries like transportation and veterinary services, the U.S. economy could lose up to 175,000 jobs.
Also, consumers could face higher prices, fewer choices and confusion in the supermarket as familiar cheese names are replaced by unfamiliar ones.
It’s a trade issue that has been quietly fermenting but it may start to smell like limburger if an agreement can’t be reached with the European Union.