Advancing their efforts to eliminate wasteful government spending, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and John McCain (R-AZ) announced today that they will introduce an amendment to the Senate Farm Bill to repeal a duplicative catfish inspection program that costs taxpayers millions. The amendment would eliminate the requirement for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a costly catfish inspection program that would double the efforts already carried out by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
USDA has warned that the program will cost $14 million a year to operate and is already costing millions of dollars a year to develop. The U.S. Government Accountability Office, which evaluates risk for wasteful spending, recommended eliminating the program because it is a "duplicative" and "high-risk" for waste, fraud, and abuse.
"Eliminating unnecessary and duplicative government programs like this one is a matter of common-sense," said Senator Shaheen. "Business, industry leaders and members of both parties agree that repealing the USDA Catfish Inspection Program is a smart move that will help eliminate excess spending and save tens of millions of taxpayer dollars."
"The USDA catfish program is a sham," said Senator McCain. "It serves no public health purpose and creates a USDA inspection office even though the FDA already inspects catfish, wasting millions of tax dollars so that southern catfish farmers will have less competition from foreign importers. While the Senate acted to eliminate the catfish office last Congress, the House did not. This time Senator Shaheen and I look forward to frying the USDA catfish office once and for all."
USDA has jurisdiction over inspection of meat, poultry and eggs, while FDA has jurisdiction over all other foods, including seafood. If implemented, the USDA catfish program would create a duplicative regulatory process in which USDA inspects catfish and FDA inspects all other seafood. The result would be that every U.S. facility that processes catfish and any other seafood would be subject to duplicative regulation from both USDA and FDA.
Shaheen and McCain have consistently been vocal opponents against the USDA program. This April, they introduced legislation with a bipartisan, bicameral coalition to repeal the program. They have been joined in their opposition by 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.