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Interpretive Summary: SAVE Act is introduced 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The Safeguarding American Value-Added Exports Act (SAVE Act) was recently introduced in the House and Senate, to protect American food products from foreign trade practices. The SAVE Act was introduced by U.S. Representatives Dusty Johnson (R-SD), Jim Costa (D-CA), Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) in the House and U.S. Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Roger Marshall (R-KS), and Tina Smith (D-MN) in the Senate.

“By exploiting valid geographical indication protections, global competitors have for decades tried to limit competition, block imports, and restrict American-made products from being able to use common food and beverage names,” said Senator Thune. “I’m proud to lead this effort in the Senate to help level the playing field for U.S. producers by ensuring they can use common food names and preserve and expand foreign market access for their products.” 

The SAVE Act would amend the Agriculture Trade Act of 1978 to include and define a list of common names for ag commodities, food products, and terms used in the marketing and packaging of products. The bill would also direct the Secretary of Agriculture and the U.S. Trade Representative to negotiate with our foreign trading partners to defend the right to use common names for ag commodities in those same foreign markets.

According to the authors of the bill, the European Union has begun using economic and political influence to implement trade practices under the guise of protecting geographic indicators that are considered unfair to the United States by blocking United States agricultural products from being sold in international markets. 

Specifically, the SAVE Act will:

  • 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
  • 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

“For years, the European Union has abused geographical indicators as a non-tariff trade barrier, limiting U.S. agriculture export opportunities simply because they rely on using common food names that have been established for decades,” said Representative Fischbach. “The SAVE Act protects common names to ensure U.S. agriculture products can be sold worldwide. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation that will help restore market access.”

Many in the agriculture industry are in support of the SAVE Act. Jim Mulhern, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, said, “The dairy producer community thanks Senators Thune and Baldwin and Representatives Johnson, Costa, Fischbach, and Panetta for their introduction of the bipartisan SAVE Act today. This legislation will raise the ambition of the U.S. government to preserve the rights of U.S. dairy producers to continue using cheese names long established as generic. We look forward to continuing to work with USDA, USTR, and our allies in American agriculture to ensure that U.S. dairy farmers and cooperatives can compete on a level playing field around the world.”

Read the SAVE Act here