Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) today announced that the Senate passed two amendments the Senator authored to aid local Massachusetts fishermen and catfish producers.
By a vote of 64 to 35, the Senate passed the Agriculture Reform Food and Jobs Act of 2012, commonly known as the "Farm Bill," which included two Kerry provisions that will make Massachusetts fishermen eligible for Emergency Disaster Loans under the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and prevent duplicative and unfair regulations on local fishermen by eliminating the USDA's Catfish Inspection Office.
"This is a big dual win for Massachusetts fishermen. Because we got these amendments passed, our seafood processors won't be subjected to a moronic double-regulation and our fishermen will be eligible for immediate disaster relief," said Sen. Kerry. "I've had one goal in this debate on the farm bill, and that's to make the point that fishermen from the Northeast who risk their lives to put food on our tables needed to be treated with the same respect as farmers in the Midwest. These are two victories towards enacting that principal into law."
"John McCain was a great partner on the catfish amendment. Putting our fishing industry under two competing sets of food safety regulations was a job killer and a new bureaucratic barrier for Massachusetts seafood processors that had nothing to do with food safety," Kerry added in reference to the catfish amendment he authored with Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) "John and I went to work to prevent that train wreck from happening, and I'm grateful for his partnership in seeing that catfish producers won't be subject to idiotic, dual regulations."
"Massachusetts fishermen continue to feel the squeeze of overregulation and unaccountability from Washington," said Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.), who co-sponsored Senator Kerry's amendment making fishermen eligible for USDA disaster loans. "I'm glad the Senate took an important step to help our fishermen by making them eligible for much needed assistance from the USDA."
Descriptions of Senator Kerry's two amendments are below:
Kerry Amendment #2187 to Add Fishermen as Eligible Recipients of Emergency Disaster Loans
Senator Kerry's amendment will expand the Emergency Disaster Loan program to include fishermen. When a county has been declared a disaster area by either the President or the Secretary of Agriculture, agricultural producers in that county may become eligible for low-interest emergency disaster (EM) loans available through USDA's Farm Service Agency. EM loan funds may be used to help eligible farmers, ranchers, and aquaculture producers recover from production losses (when the producer suffers a significant loss of an annual crop) or from physical losses (such as repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed structures or equipment, or for the replanting of permanent crops such as orchards).
Kerry-McCain Amendment #2199 to Eliminate the Catfish Inspection Office
Senator Kerry partnered with Senator McCain to author an amendment to Farm Bill that would eliminate the USDA's proposed Catfish Inspection Office. The Catfish Inspection Office would create duplicative regulation on Massachusetts seafood processors by regulating catfish under both the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA.) FDA currently regulates all Massachusetts seafood processing plants. If the Office is implemented, seafood processors in Gloucester, South Boston, the South End, Fall River and New Bedford that work with catfish would be subject to two sets of significantly different regulations that could require separate processing lines or the construction of entirely separate processing facility. This would drive up costs for employers and consumers, significantly discourage expansion and job creation, and would not improve safety for consumers.