The Cheese Importers Association of America, Inc. was incorporated on September 30, 1948 by Sol Salinger, Louis Dorman, Robert Roethlisberger, Bernard Baffigi, and Herman Bossart with the assistance of counsel, Martin A. Fromer.
During World War II, many new restrictions and controls were imposed due to the war and general product shortages. All major government activity was directed to winning the war and supplying the armed forces.
Some of the key cheese industry leaders met and an association should be formed that could address the specific issues of cheese and dairy importation. In 1945, the Cheese Importers Association of America Inc. was formed, and Martin Fromer was retained as legal representative. Benjamin O. Villa of Otto Roth was elected President, Sol Salinger of J.S. Hoffman Vice President, and the Board of Directors included representatives of many of the importing firms of that day.
Early on, the Cheese Importers Association of America Inc. supported importers by helping advise and assist U.S. Legislative and Governmental agencies, as well as many State and local government regulatory agencies. The Association helped to coordinate efforts of cooperation between foreign supplying countries and U.S. interests.
The early years were devoted to interpreting the Import and OPA regulations and complying with U.S. Food and Drug and U.S. Customs. When import controls were imposed, the cheese importers were faced with major changes in the import dairy business, along with the pressing need for a spokesman that could represent industry needs. Issues with license and quotas, FDA, U.S. Customs and adapting to the mores of government and international trade kept increasing. Much of the early efforts of the Association were focused on educating government agencies about existing trade practices that would be affected by imposing proposed regulations. The Cheese Importers Association of America Inc. earned the respect of the U.S. departments and agencies involved and resulted in amending many of the impractical proposals or provisions being enforced or considered. Actions were taken to help increase quotas and define the interests of our industry to make compliance with the law in agreement with trade practice.
Many visits were made to Washington by the Association’s Committees to solve problems and onerous conditions imposed by regulations and controls. This was very useful in achieving more equitable administration of the import regulations, removal of some controls and increases of cheese quantities. The Association also helped educate the importers to comply with the changing regulations and legal requirements.
The first Cheese Importers dinner was held in 1948 at the Tira and Segno Club. The election of officers for that year was held at the dinner. Some of those firms very active in the formative years were at the dinner and contributed greatly to the success of our industry. Many of these no longer exist, but should be noted given their contribution to the industry – Otto Roth Inc., J.S. Hoffman, Schroeder Bros., Pastene and Co., Lily Lake Cheese, Borden Co., N. Dorman, June Dairy, Roethlisberger, Packing Products, Gerber & Co., Columbia Cheese, Chicago Macaroni, Bertolli Trading, Scaramelli and Co., Locatelli & Co., Ossola, Reynolds and Irving. These firms and others were hugely instrumental in setting the path for cheese and dairy imports in the future. Even though many of the original member firms no longer exist, their contribution, leadership and cooperation helped build the Association. They left a legacy of a viable, well-recognized organization that continues to provide insight, and solutions to the problems facing cheese importers in the US today.
By Jerome Schuman