While maintaining its support for a free-trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and the European Union, a coalition of U.S. food and agricultural organizations led by the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) reiterated that any deal must include agriculture and that the EU must address non-tariff trade barriers.

In a letter signed by 60 organizations sent last week to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, the coalition said it is important that any FTA with the EU be comprehensive and address impediments to trade in agricultural products.

The coalition, which sent a similar letter in January, urged U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk to negotiate a high-standard, 21st-century agreement. But that is not the type of agreements the EU has negotiated with other trading partners. The EU’s past FTAs have excluded agricultural goods it produces, and its regulatory measures often conflict with World Trade Organization rules, including regulations on “genetically modified” crop approval and labels. The measures would restrict U.S. corn, soy and refined corn product exports, and production methods in poultry, beef and pork.

As part of agreeing to enter trade talks with the United States, for example, the EU Parliament said any FTA must include language on geographical indications, which would grant the EU exclusive rights to certain product names that, nonetheless, have been widely used outside of Europe for many years. (The United States would not be allowed to export to the EU, for example, “Parmesan” cheese, which is named after the Italian region where it first was produced.)

The coalition said it is skeptical that the EU is prepared to undertake a U.S.-style comprehensive negotiation and to include agriculture.

Click here to read the coalition letter.