CT lawmakers battle plan to restrict cheese names - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT lawmakers battle plan to restrict cheese names

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CT lawmakers battle plan to restrict cheese names. (WFSB) CT lawmakers battle plan to restrict cheese names. (WFSB)
OLD LYME, CT (WFSB) -

A trade agreement between the United States and Europe about cheese could impact a lot of Connecticut farmers.  

For more than two decades, Suzanne Sankow has been making lots of cheese on Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm in Old Lyme.

“We make raw milk cow cheese. We make feta, pleasant valley. We make sheep cheese,” Sankow said.

Sankow said her cheese “took best in show from the Big E.” 

But Sankow is one of dozens of local farmers that are in a big international fight with the European Union over what to call their cheese.

“They want to control the name of the cheeses,” Sankow said.

“You think of Ramono Cheese and Asiago cheese as just the name of the product you're buying but it's also the name of town or region in Europe,” U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said.

Hidden inside the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement, the European Union wants to ban American farmers from using European names such as feta

“I do not think it's fair,” Sankow said.  

If the trade deal is approved, that would mean some cheeses would have to be renamed and Connecticut farmers said they are worried that would cause a little bit of confusion.

“So if a recipe said use feta cheese, you come out and I couldn't sell you feta,” Sankow said.  “I’d have to sell you fresh white cheese even though they tasted the same.”

Murphy and the entire Connecticut delegation said they are fighting back.

“We've asked our negotiators to make sure that in these trade negotiations with Europe that our cheese companies here in Connecticut if they're making a Ramono cheese or a feta cheese or an Asiago cheese that they still get to call it that,” Murphy said.

The agreement is expected to be finalized by the end of the year. Until then, Sankow said she’ll keep selling  her cheese with the well-known names.

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