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May 24, 2016

May 24, 2016 | News Releases on

Senate Ponders Reeling In Catfish Inspection Program

The Senate could vote as early as today on a joint resolution disapproving the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule on catfish inspections. Heritage Foundation agriculture policy expert Daren Bakst called the program “a poster child for cronyism and government waste.”

According to the Foundation’s Budget Book, published earlier this year, getting rid of the program could save American taxpayers about $14 million annually. Additionally, the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) has called out this wasteful program saying it would “cost taxpayers millions of dollars annually without enhancing the safety of catfish intended for human consumption" (Report to Congressional Committees, pp. 198-199).

“The USDA catfish inspection program is little more than a trade protectionist scheme designed to limit foreign competition for the domestic catfish industry,” Bakst said. “It unnecessarily inflates consumer costs, even as it increases the deficit. Ultimately, other domestic industries will suffer from retaliatory trade actions taken by other countries such as Vietnam."

Bakst also added, “This is not a question of USDA inspection or no inspection; catfish inspection should be back with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which is responsible for seafood inspections and has the expertise in this area – not the USDA.”

A fuller explanation for why repeal of this rule would benefit American consumers and taxpayers is available in Heritage’s “Blueprint for Balance” (p. 16).

For additional commentary on this issue, see this May 18 piece by Bakst.

About the Author

Justin Posey Communications Manager, Institute for Economic Freedom and Opportunity and Legal Studies
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