WASHINGTON, D.C. -

Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is trying to get more American cheeses on the plates of Europeans. With the support of the U.S. dairy industry,  McCaskill is joining a bipartisan group of colleagues in urging the Department of Agriculture and the United States Trade Representative to reject recent efforts by the European Union to restrict the export of commonly named cheeses.

The Senator’s letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman called for continued action against the EU’s growing efforts to use what is known as “geographical indication” as a means to restrict U.S. cheese exports around the globe, particularly to nations with which the U.S. already has free trade agreements.

“This trade barrier is of great concern to dairy and other food manufacturers in our states,” the Senators wrote. “We urge you to make clear to your EU counterparts that the U.S. will reject any proposal in the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations now underway that would restrict in any way the ability of U.S. producers to use common cheese names.”

The EU is attempting to block products using certain place names as part of the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations. However, many of the place names represent styles of cheese that have long been produced in the United States, to the point that they have become functionally generic, such as “asiago,” “gouda,” “muenster,” “provolone,” “parmesan,” and “feta.” If the European Union were successful, it could severely harm the U.S. dairy industry.