The Senate Could Save You Millions on Catfish

Last time the Farm Bill went through Congress, it included a little nugget that might have surprised anyone with an understanding of American fish production, or anyone who doesn’t appreciate the Federal government spending their money on programs to do things the government does already. Despite spending $7 a year for the FDA to inspect catfish that come to America from foreign lands, Congress approved a second USDA catfish inspection program to double-check the fish before they hit Americans’ plates. That second program is costing Americans around $170 million.

For the USDA to do a job that the FDA already does for a fraction of that.

For a fish that basically no one thinks is dangerous. Actually, you have a greater chance of being killed in your home by a flaming asteroid crashing through the roof of your living room than you do of getting sick from eating catfish (unless, you know, you’re licking live ones or something). Actually, you have a higher risk of being elected President than you do getting sick from catfish.

As it turns out, the redundant: catfish program is a leftover from the days when America was trying to stimulate its domestic catfish production, not by stimulating its domestic catfish production but by making it harder for foreign catfish to invade our shores. And while Congress isn’t normally enthusiastic about repealing costly measures that encourage American protectionism and manipulate the free market, at least this time around, a few important people are backing the Double Catfish Inspection repeal, which will be up next week in the Senate as part of the new Farm Bill.

“Consistent with the support of the full Senate to eliminate the program during last year’s Farm Bill consideration, we request that you ensure this year’s Farm Bill repeals the USDA catfish: inspection program.”

The House has already passed the amendment repealing the inspection program, thanks to the efforts of a few sharp cookies like Vicki Hartzler. And John McCain and John Kerry, typical big spenders when it comes to government programs, have both joined the chorus of voices calling for catfish to be restricted to a single inspection. In fact, even Barack Obama’s controversial 2014 Budget cuts out catfish inspections. Even the GAO has routinely called for the catfish inspection program to be repealed.

“Responsibility for Catfish should not be assigned to USDA.”: (May 2012)

Repealing the USDA catfish inspection program: “would avoid duplication of federal programs and could save taxpayers millions of dollars annually without affecting the safety of catfish intended for human consumption.”: (April 2013 GAO-13-279SP, Page 34)

In fact, if you go to the website dedicated to repealing the measure, you’ll find pages of people who think double-inspecting catfish is a terrible idea. The Senate seems to agree. But, being that they’re still Congress, you can’t count your chickens. Plus, has Congress ever turned down an opportunity to spend your money even if the situation seemed a little…ridiculous? Maybe it would be a good time to let them know you don’t think inspecting foreign catfish (when they’ve already been inspected for less money) is a great idea.

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