On September 30 the United States, Mexico and Canada announced a new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The USMCA will have to be ratified by Congress, which may not occur before early 2019.
AOPA is pleased this agreement marks one of the first times since the TRIPs Agreement (the NAFTA refers to "distinctive products of the United States; and the 2006 US wine agreement with the European Community refers to "Names of quality wines produced in specified regions", etc...) that the US has negotiated a treaty containing a specific reference to Geographical Indications (see Section E of the USMCA Intellectual Property Chapter attached below).
Fresh opportunities may arise over the following months for a pragmatic discussion on Geographical Indications in the US, focused on strengthening the national legal framework and supporting US distinctive products to obtain Geographical Indications protection in foreign markets.
In the USMCA, AOPA sees positive steps to effectively promote the production of distinctive agricultural products in the US and help create sustainable economic growth in rural America. Our members have some ideas about how to conduct such a debate and invite you to look at our policy agenda (http://www.aop-us.org/) and get back to us with your comments and suggestions.
June 26, 2018: The American Origin Products Association sent letters of appreciation to seven key United States Senators for stating their opposition to tariffs on American agriculture which would negatively effect consumer markets for many of America's distinctive products like Washington State Apples, Idaho Potatoes, Massachusetts Cranberries, Tennessee Whiskey and many others. At a recent hearing, Senator Agriculture Committee Chair Pat Roberts opposed “Putting agriculture commodities in a retaliation bullseye," predicting, "that is an ongoing and very critical challenge for everybody in farm country.” Senators Hatch, Grassley, Roberts, Isakson, Toomey, Thune, and Portman have publicly opposed trade policies which would raise prices and reduce markets for American agricultural products.
May 30, 2018: The American Origin Product Association participated in a symposium on Geographical Indications sponsored by The World Food Law Institute, in cooperation with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the American Society of International Law (ASIL). The Symposium began with a presentation by the GI expert at the World Intellectual Property Organization, Dr. David Muls, who discussed the expanding value of geographical indications around the world. Experts from the FAO presented a summary of their new report, “Strengthening Sustainable Food Systems Through Geographical Indications: An Analysis of Economic Impact” http://www.fao.org/3/I8737EN/i8737en.pdf
AOPA Executive Director Jim Smith moderated an afternoon panel dedicated to rural economic development case studies featuring Geographic Indications, including Vidalia Onions and Kona Coffee, two distinctive American products which have created enormous economic value and a growing base of employment within their respective regions. The AOPA presentation at the World Food Law Institute symposium on Geographical Indications can be found here:
May 24, 2018: Daniel Harper was the featured guest on Melinda Hemmelgarn's nationally syndicated radio show, Food Sleuth, to talk about AOPA and Origin Products in the USA. Check out the recorded version here.
April 11th, 2018: In a letter to US. Reps Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Lee Zelden (R-NY), AOPA President Colehour Bondera and Executive Director Jim Smith expressed the association's support for House Resolution 766, the aim of which is to recognize the contributions of American Viticultural Areas (AVAs) and wine growing regions.
In this Resolution, Representatives Blumenauer and Zelden stress the value of a comprehensive system for recognizing and classifying origin and distinctiveness within the American wine industry. The Resolution has three components:
(1) recognition of the significant contributions to the economic and cultural life of the nation made by American wines and wine-growing regions; (2) recognition the value created in domestic and foreign markets by promoting wines from America, including those protected by AVA designations or other appellations of origin; and (3) support for the efforts to promote awareness of and appreciation for distinctive American wine-growing regions in the United States and abroad.
The AOPA supports House Res. 766 and strives to strengthen and extend the economic and legal advantages of a system of place-based recognition to a wider range of US agricultural products. Below you will find our official letter of support to Congressmen Blumenhauer and Zelden.
A US-Chinese Trade War Will Affect American Origin Products
AOPA works actively with its members and the USPTO on behalf of American agricultural producers, their brands, and their unique, quality products. Among the list of the 128 American goods to be subject to punitive tariff hikes in China, most are agricultural crops and goods, ranging from fruit and nuts to wines. With the rise in these prices on the Chinese market, American Origin Products are likely to be more vulnerable to cheap imitation goods. Below, you can click to read the letter addressed to Agricultural Secretary Sonny Perdu from Californian Senator Diane Feinstein regarding the concerning implications of the US-Chinse trade war on Californian agriculture.
.Recently, the AOPA sent a letter of congratulations to the new Director of the United States Patent and Trademark office, the Honorable Andrei Iancu. Charged with registering and managing American patents and trademarks, the USPTO is one of the key agencies responsible for helping producers of regional specialty goods remain competitive. AOPA looks forward to working closely with Mr. Iancu and the USPTO to preserve, protect and promote American Origin Products, and build a stronger American rural economy.
AOP producers rely on the USPTO to establish their brands and to support their claims to geographically based origin and quality. In addition to developing their own trademarks and brands, many local American producers use geographic indications of their production areas as markers of authenticity, distinctiveness and reputation, which is considered a form of intellectual property by the WTO. Sound origin claims are of paramount importance, not only to producers fighting off fraudulent competitors, but also to consumers who are growing more and more demanding of authentic, quality agrifood products. Today in the US, a system for registration and protection of geographical indications exists only for wines, known as American Viticultural Areas (AVAs).
In the letter to Director Iancu, AOPA recalls the extent to which the prevalence of fraudulent activity surrounds AOP goods, at home and abroad, and how this adversely affects their producers and consumers. “…This behavior damages the product's regional reputation, disadvantages the veritable producers, propagates consumer misinformation and confusion, and damages the reputation of the authentic local producers.” AOPA will be encouraging the USPTO to help AOP producers protect their goods and brands on the global market, as well as to develop a streamlined, more producer-friendly system for geographical indications.
The letter to Director Andrei Iancu can be viewed by clicking the PDF links below.
On November 7th, 2017, The American Origin Products Association (AOPA) held a special wine and cheese tasting for the Congressional Wine Caucus. Over 150 guests were present at Rayburn House Office building to taste local wines from Maryland as well wines from Oregon’s reputed Willamette Valley region. Among the organizers were AOPA members Colehour Bondera of Kona Coffee Farmers Association, Isaura Andaluz of Cuatro Puertas New Mexican Chile Nativo and Pat Kole from Idaho Potatoes. This convivial gathering was the occasion for American producers of specialty, region-based products to meet face-to-face with lawmakers to showcase the unique character of their products, and to discuss the economic importance of American-made, place-based products- both to our national economy, and to the local regions where these products build a secure employment base.
The event began with words from Wine Caucus Co-Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) about the beauty and value of American wines and other home-state products. Then, AOP Executive Director Jim Smith welcomed the group and introduced Nancy Radke, who presented an economic case study on the value of geographically distinctive agricultural products for the audience.
The Wine and Cheese Tasting with the Congressional Wine Caucus is the first of many more successful AOP events to help improve policy makers’ understanding of the value of geographically distinctive agricultural products. Make sure to follow us by joining our newsletter to stay up to date on the latest happenings from within the association, including events, partnerships, testimonies, and product features.