FDA field inspector checking shipments of imported seafood and catfish. (Photo: FDA/FIS)
Senate repeals USDA Catfish Inspection Office
Thursday, June 21, 2012, 08:10 (GMT + 9)
US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has announced his support of the Senate’s approval of the McCain-Kerry amendment (#2199) repealing the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Catfish Inspection Office.
“The Senate made the right decision to eliminate the proposed USDA Catfish Inspection Office,” he said.
He pointed out that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is already in charge of inspecting pangasius, which is why the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) called the USDA programme “wasteful and duplicative,” as well as excessive and redundant, in its recent report and advised that Congress repeal it.
“The proposed catfish inspection office offered no food safety benefit – its actual goal was to erect protectionist regulatory hurdles on catfish imports, forcing American consumers to pay more for their catfish. I am proud that the Senate acted in the best interest of the American taxpayer, taking this small but important step to clean up the traditionally pork-laden Farm bill,” McCain added.
Senator John Kerry (D-MA) agreed and noted that there would be no food safety benefit from the programme.
"This would be entirely duplicative, a waste of time, hurt consumers, and hurt processors," he said.
In contrast, Senator Mark Pryor (D-AR) from Arkansas, a state replete with catfish producers, gave "the other side of the story." He argued that imported tra (pangasius) are not raised in the same sanitary conditions as catfish in the US.
"They use different herbicides and pesticides and they have different pollutants. In fact, we've seen documented cases where they've been raised in sewage water, water contaminated with sewage," Pryor contended, Food Safety News reports.
The USDA's inspection programme would have focused on salmonella, not chemical or drug residues, according to the GAO.
The McCain amendment repealed a provision buried inside the 2008 Farm Bill that moved catfish inspections from the FDA to the USDA. The USDA estimates that the proposed catfish office would have cost taxpayers about USD 30 million to create and about USD 14 million each year to implement.
This week Kerry proposed an amendment to the Farm Bill to make Massachusetts fishers eligible for Emergency Disaster Loans under the USDA.
- Senator proposes Farm Bill amendment to include fishers
- Catfish should not be regulated by USDA: report
By Natalia Real