Since 1941, the famous Utah cheese company, Gossner’s, has been making high-quality food products using locally sourced ingredients from the farms of Cache Valley, Box Elder County and other neighboring communities. The European Union’s agenda in international trade negotiations threatens the future of family-owned businesses like Gossner Foods and others in Utah and around the country.
A significant aspect of Europe’s farm and trade policy agenda is focused on using geographical indications to grant European food producers unfair advantages over their competitors outside of the EU. With geographical indications, the EU is working to restrict countries and businesses from using words or names associated with these regions. If European trade negotiators and industry officials have their way, many different common food and beverage names will be eliminated from Utah grocery store shelves. For example, Utah companies like Gossner’s would have to come up with new names for popular cheeses such as Provolone and Muenster.
The EU has been successful in implementing protections for its geographical indications in many different international trade negotiations. Most recently, a draft trade agreement between the EU and Mexico includes such protections. Mexico has indicated a willingness to grant the U.S. exemption from the restrictions as part of the NAFTA negotiations, but the future of NAFTA is far from certain.
If the EU accomplishes its geographical indications goals, food producers impacted by them will have to go through a costly rebranding effort, losing money and time to their European counterparts. Meanwhile, many consumers in the U.S. will choose imported cheeses from the EU with names they recognize over U.S. products with names they don’t recognize.
The dairy products industry in Utah employs more than 9,000 skilled individuals, generates more than $398 million in direct wages and has an overall economic impact of over $7 billion. Utah and U.S. dairy depends on a vibrant, competitive international market as well as robust domestic market in order to balance out supply and demand. If the EU continues to be successful in its efforts to unfairly shut out its global competition, multiple studies have shown that numerous small and medium-sized farms and food producers in Utah and across the country would be forced out of business. This would eliminate thousands of rural jobs and hurt the economy, both within Utah and nationwide.
The EU has recently railed against protectionist trade policies stemming from the U.S., but its geographical indications are no different — and in some respects they are worse. Geographical indications are blatant protectionism hidden under the guise of trademarks and intellectual property.
The future of small and medium-sized food producers here in Utah and across the country depends on free and fair trade. The U.S. should fight against the EU’s attempt to push its geographical indications protections around the globe by resisting efforts to expand the mandate for this type of protection at the World Trade Organization. Furthermore, U.S. negotiators should secure open markets for generically branded products within regional and bilateral trade agreements starting with NAFTA. Finally, no trade agreement should be ratified by the Senate if it does not include free and fair trade for generically branded products.
This article appeared in The Deseret News on July 8, 2018.
LIVESTOCK INSPECTION BUREAU IS AN ESSENTIAL ASSET TO THE ANIMAL INDUSTRY
Livestock fees were set to increase for the first time since 2007, on July 1, 2018. However, at this time fees will stay the same. One aspect of these fees is brand inspection done by the Livestock Inspection Bureau.
The Livestock Inspection Bureau is designed to deny a market to potential thieves and to detect the true owners of livestock. Their mission is to provide quality, timely and courteous service to the livestock men and women of the state, in an effort to protect the cattle and horse industry.
“Livestock Inspection is for the buyer and seller’s protection, ensuring that the person selling the livestock is the legal owner of the livestock and has a right to sell it,” said Anna Marie Vail, Deputy Chief - Livestock Inspection Bureau. “It also gives the buyer official proof of ownership. Both parties are then in compliance with Utah State Code 4-24-302.”
Brand inspections are required by law when livestock are: changing ownership, going to
slaughter, leaving the state — even if the livestock is not branded. The Bureau consists of full-time employees, which includes special function officers and three law enforcement officers, and half-time or part-time inspectors.
The inspectors verify proper ownership of livestock before they are sold, shipped out of state, or sent to slaughter. The Bureau also has a strong presence at each of the five weekly auctions inspecting all cattle and horses.
Brand inspectors investigate livestock crimes, regulate livestock dealers, ensure strays are returned to the rightful owner, and regulate livestock markets and temporary sales. Inspectors assist the state’s port of entry personnel; a livestock inspector is assigned to
work monthly in each port of entry.
These inspectors are authorized and equipped to chase down those livestock transporters who ignore the signs requiring all livestock hauling vehicles to stop. This is an effort to help prevent diseased animals from entering the state and stolen animals from leaving the state.
The Livestock Inspection Bureau continues an education and enforcement action push. The education sessions are held on a request basis and conducted by the local livestock inspector.
Surveillance efforts by full time Livestock Inspection staff has reduced theft and raised awareness about livestock theft throughout the state. Livestock surveillance signs are placed in livestock-prominent areas with Brand Inspector names and phone numbers for that area. Surveillance signs posted around livestock are highly visible and easily noticed, deterring potential livestock thieves.
The Livestock Inspection Bureau employs a range rider/investigator whose job is to travel from county to county in an effort to prevent animal theft as they forage and are removed from open-range situations. Brand inspectors collect all Beef Promotion fees which are sent to the National Beef Checkoff and Utah Beef Council programs. The brand inspectors also collect the cattlemen’s part of predator control fees.
The Livestock Inspection Bureau does more than inspect and collect fees. They also do yearly travel permits for livestock that enables you to go out of state multiple times in a calendar year; or lifetime travel permits for horses that enable you to move in and out of state as often as you would like and is valid for the lifetime of the horse. Lifetimes are honored in all states and Canada and can be transferred when the horse is sold.
They also register brands — there are over 15,000 brands registered in the state. Branding your animals helps with ownership identification and ensures they will be returned to you. It also gives livestock investigators, law enforcement, animal control, and auctions something to look for in the event that your livestock go missing. Branding is not mandatory and all cattle and horses need to be inspected by law whether they are branded or not.
All in all, these fees help ensure safe movement and lawful transfer of ownership for livestock throughout Utah.
The 2018 Utah Legislature passed several bills involving cannabis, The Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF) is the agency responsible for implementing and enforcing many of the new cannabis-related laws. The information on this page and links to other pages and documents relate to the new laws and the rulemaking process. As this process continues there will be opportunities for stakeholder and general public input. Please visit this page periodically for updates.
Audio Recordings of April 19th Public Meetings
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The Frequently Asked Questions are not law or regulation and are subject to change as the rulemaking processes continues. Nothing here should be construed to be part of the administrative rules. No statement here should be taken as legal advice or counsel nor should it substitute for obtaining competent legal advice from a license attorney. Please remember that under federal law, possessing, using, distributing and/or selling marijuana is a federal crime. Nothing on this page is intended to provide any guidance or assistance in violating federal law, or to provide guidance or assistance in complying with federal law.
It’s only a small slice of the entire food industry pie, but organic foods are increasingly satisfying the taste buds of United States consumers, particularly with the expanding wallets of Millennials.
According to the Organic Trade Association, organic food sales contribute 5.3 percent of the total U.S. food market. But the organic foods growth rate has been hovering around eight to nine percent in recent years, compared to only three percent growth in the overall food industry.
Supporting that growth is a demand for organic food inspectors to ensure the safety and integrity of this niche market. That makes recruitment and training an integral part of the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food (UDAF).
On an average year, UDAF recruits and hires a number of inspectors that receive on-the-job training in areas such as seed and fertilizer inspection. From there, a select number are given the opportunity to receive advanced certification training in organic food growing and processing inspection through UDAF’s partnership with the International Organic Inspectors Association (IOIA).
“These trainings are essential to proper organic food and processing inspection techniques,” said Bracken Davis, deputy director of UDAF’s Plant Industry Division. “They learn the rules to a very complex program with lots of exceptions and that helps us ensure that consumers are getting what they expect.”
Davis went on to say that the eight to nine percent industry growth rate mirrors the need for more inspectors as Utah has seen its fair share of that increase. As such, he hopes funding for this program will continue to grow to meet the demand.
The most recent organic certification training was held in Ogden this month over a two-week period with the first week devoted to crop inspection and the second to processing inspection. Of the 18 attendees, five came from Utah. Others came from western states and one as far away as Florida.
“It’s been very good,” said Matthew Serfustini, a UDAF compliance specialist and organic food inspection trainee. “There are lots of specific examples – things I never would have thought of that link to the code and give you a better view of inspections generally.”
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