STATEMENT OF U.S. SENS. MARK WARNER & TIM KAINE ON SENATE VOTE TO REPEAL WASTEFUL USDA CATFISH INSPECTION PROGRAM
Washington – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) released the following joint statement today after the Senate voted 55-43 to repeal a wasteful and duplicative U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) catfish inspection program that is harmful to Virginia seafood producers:
“The catfish inspection program is a waste of taxpayer dollars. This unnecessary, duplicative program offers no benefits for safety or consumer health, and simply creates extra burdens for Virginia seafood processors and producers, who are now forced to report separately to two separate federal agencies – one to inspect catfish, and one to inspect all other types of fish. It also undermines Virginia’s efforts to employ market-based solutions to reduce the population of blue catfish, which is an invasive species that poses a long-term threat to Virginia’s fishery resources. We applaud the Senate for finally moving forward to repeal this duplicative, wasteful program, and urge the House of Representatives to act quickly on this resolution of disapproval.”
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is the primary inspector of all foreign and domestic fish products. But a provision tucked into the 2008 farm bill designed to privilege Mississippi Delta catfish farmers required USDA, which inspects meat and poultry products, to set up a separate program for the sole purpose of inspecting catfish. The resulting USDA catfish inspection rule, which began to take effect in March of this year, requires seafood companies that handle catfish as well as other types of seafood to have two federal agencies inspect their operation: USDA, to look at catfish, and the FDA, to inspect all other fish.