A bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers Thursday introduced legislation to amend the 2008 farm bill to repeal a USDA-Food and Drug Administration joint catfish grading and inspection program, which they say is redundant.
U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. and John McCain, R-Ariz., along with 8 other senators, introduced S. 362 today to abolish the "duplicative program that wastes taxpayer dollars."
Similar legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswomen Vicky Hartlzer, R-Mo., and Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif.
In the absence of action, both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration would be tasked with regulating seafood. The USDA has indicated that this new catfish regulatory program will cost approximately $30 million to set up and at least $14 million annually to implement after that, the Senators say.
"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," Shaheen said in a press statement. "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."
Sen. McCain said the true purpose of the program is to "prop up the domestic catfish industry at the expense of the American consumer and our international trade partners."
However, supporters of the program say USDA inspection is viewed as more thorough, and would make American exporters more competitive. The FDA currently handles all seafood inspections.
Supporters of the legislation to eliminate 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.