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Product names under threat from EU trade deal

By Simon Ruppert

How would you feel about ordering a King Valley sparkling white, instead of a prosecco?

How about asking for some salty ewe's cheese on your salad instead of feta?

Well, if Australia signs a new free trade agreement with the European Union you might be forced to.

Farmers across the region are being urged to review the details of the proposed FTA to see how they might be affected.

Farmers have warned of devastating impacts for Australian agriculture if Europe's demands to stop using names like feta on local produce are met

Member for Euroa Steph Ryan said the Federal Government was seeking feedback on the impacts that might arise from the proposed agreement.

 “Local wine producers are fighting a move by the EU to ban them from using the term prosecco,” she said.

 “The EU is now seeking to protect a number of other food names, known as geographical indicators, as part of negotiations over a free trade agreement.

 “These protections are a real bone of contention for a lot of Australian producers.

 “In total, the EU wants 236 spirit names and 172 agricultural and other foodstuff names protected as geographical indicators in Australia including dairy, meat, smallgoods, horticulture, confectionery, oils, beer and spirits.

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 “A number of these goods are the common names used for products in Australia.

"The EU’s demands could have significant ramifications for local farmers, including cheese makers and pork and olive oil producers.

 “Parmesan, gorgonzola, grana padano, taleggio, halloumi, brie, camembert, edam, gouda, pecorino and cheddar could all be impacted.

 “The geographical indicators also include meats like bresola, jamon and prosciutto.”

 Ms Ryan said producers had the opportunity to object to the protections the EU was trying to place on particular products.

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 “There’s no doubt that market access to the EU would be a huge boon for many producers, but it is important that the rights of Australian farmers are not traded away,” she said.

“The European Union is an enormous market, with a gross domestic product of more than US$17 trillion and a population of half a billion people.”