Congressman goes to bat for Roquefort

Congressman goes to bat for Roquefort


Jim Oberstar has a friend in cheeses.

Minnesota's 8th District DFL Congressman has penned a letter to President Barack Obama protesting what he describes as the government's "mean-spirited" 300 percent import duty on Roquefort cheese.

Comparing the practice to the United States' bizarre naming of "freedom fries" and "freedom toast" in retaliation for France's opposition to the Iraq war, Oberstar calls on Obama "to reestablish America's moral authority in the world."

Oberstar's letter says the unnecessarily steep duty was imposed in the waning days of the Bush administration in response to a European ban on hormone-containing U.S. beef.

"Though I am a supporter of 'buy American," it is for unfairly subsidized foreign products when they are identical or comparable to ours," Oberstar writes. "Roquefort cheese is not in this category."

Oberstar, a Chisholm native, is a member of the Congressional French Caucus. The letter was submitted to Obama in both French and English.

Roquefort, a blue cheese made from sheep's milk, hails from the south of France.

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