Senate Should End Wasteful Catfish Inspection Program

National Taxpayers Union Vote Alert

NTU urges all Senators to vote “YES” on S.J. Res. 28, a resolution of disapproval for the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) catfish inspection program. The catfish program is a posterchild for wasteful government spending and a costly regulation in search of a problem.

Prior to the creation of the USDA program, all seafood was inspected under the purview of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Adding personnel for a new USDA Office of Catfish Inspection on top of existing FDA inspectors is wasteful and duplicative, especially when both the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control consider catfish to be a “low risk food.” Expanding catfish inspection to USDA would also require two government agencies to maintain experts in these overlapping fields.

In addition, the 2011 notice of proposed rulemaking released by the USDA admitted that the effectiveness of the proposed program was “unclear” or “unknown.” It’s this obvious lack of real need or purpose that has made the $14 million/year catfish inspection program the target of the Government Accountability Office ten times (so far). The catfish program has also been targeted for elimination in joint “Toward Common Ground” reports compiled by NTU and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, despite our differences regarding the size and role of federal government.

Rather than addressing a threat to the national food supply, the USDA’s catfish program serves as an unnecessary barrier to free trade. It could take USDA years to certify overseas facilities and regulatory regimes that already meet FDA standards. The program, in effect, implements a ban on foreign catfish species, raising costs for consumers and undermining our relationships abroad.

Roll call votes on S.J. Res. 28 will be included in our annual Rating of Congress and a “YES” vote will be considered the pro-taxpayer position.

If you have any questions, please contact NTU Federal Affairs Manager, Nan Swift, at (703) 299-8673.