Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin
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Pocan Has Limited Confidence In FDA’s Current Status on Wood-Aging in Cheese Making

Jun 13, 2014
Press Release

MADISON – U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) today released the following statement after a phone conversation with an official from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clarifying its position on banning the practice of wood-aging in cheese making:

“After my call with FDA officials, I have limited confidence in their current status regarding wood-aging in cheese making. Furthermore I now see the bipartisan amendment that would prevent the FDA from banning this practice as more necessary than ever. While the FDA may think its position is clear to Washington bureaucrats, cheese makers in America’s Heartland and I have been left unclear on the FDA’s actual intent and future plans regarding cheese making. I look forward to creating a more fruitful partnership between the FDA and cheese makers in Wisconsin.  However, further action is necessary to ensure Wisconsin cheese makers can continue to operate as they have for centuries in a safe and successful manner.  This fight is not over.“

Background

The FDA traditionally uses a "comment rule-making" process as a way to include public discussion on a particular issue before making a final ruling. In this case, the FDA has not adequately communicated to the cheese making industry on best practices. 

On June 11, Rep. Pocan announced he will join colleagues from Wisconsin, Vermont, New Hampshire, Oregon, Connecticut, New York and California to introduce a bipartisan amendment that would prevent the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from banning the practice of wood-aging in cheese making.

• Wisconsin, the nation’s largest cheese producing state, with more than 11 million pounds of cheese produced in 2013.  

• The Wisconsin dairy economy, almost half of the state’s agricultural economy, has an annual economic output of about $26 billion and supports about 11,000 family farmers. 

• Wisconsin dairy industry is the state’s single largest industry in terms of economic impact.  

• Employment in the agriculture processing sector is 251,800 jobs.

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