Bipartisan House and Senate group tackling duplicative and wasteful catfish inspection program

Mar 21, 2013 Issues: Agriculture

The Senate and House are taking on duplicative and wasteful government spending with legislation to amend the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act to repeal a redundant program involving the inspection and grading of catfish. Congresswomen Vicky Hartzler (MO-4) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) introduced H.R. 1313 in the House along with 23 other members of Congress, and  Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced S. 632 today along with 8 other Senators to end this duplicative program.

“We don’t need two government agencies inspecting seafood,” Congresswoman Hartzler said. “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently inspects all commercial seafood. A provision in the 2008 Farm Bill to move catfish inspection to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) makes no sense and will only waste tax dollars. The General Accounting Office (GAO) estimates it will cost $30 million in start-up costs and at least $14 million each following year for the USDA to train inspectors and run this program. Washington needs to stop this practice of wasting taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.”

“The USDA Catfish Inspection Program represents a bad deal for seafood companies in Los Angeles and taxpayers across the country,” Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard said. “Unless we act, not only will this initiative continue to waste millions of tax dollars, it will also split seafood inspection responsibilities between two different federal agencies, undermine our food safety system and put consumers at risk. This bipartisan bill will eliminate the wasteful, duplicative program, and I hope Congress will move quickly to pass it.”

“This program epitomizes the kind of wasteful and excessive spending in Washington that needs to go. We have to make sure every taxpayer dollar is spent wisely and repealing this redundant and wasteful program is a no-brainer,” said Senator Shaheen. “Businesses, industry leaders and members of both parties all agree that repealing the USDA Catfish Inspection Program is a smart move that will rein in excess spending and save tens of millions of taxpayer dollars. We should act on this legislation as quickly as possible.”

“I’m pleased by the bipartisan and bicameral support for this legislation,” Senator McCain said. “It’s common sense that the proposed USDA Catfish Office should be eliminated given the criticisms lodged against it by the Government Accountability Office. Its true purpose is to prop up the domestic catfish industry at the expense of the American consumer and our international trade partners. This bill was adopted as an amendment to the Senate-passed Farm Bill last Congress, and I’m hopeful we will enjoy similar success during this year’s work on the Farm Bill.”

Opponents of the USDA Catfish Inspection Program include the American Soybean Association, Food Marketing Institute, National Meat Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Pork Producers Council, National Restaurant Association, and the United States Dairy Export Council.