agriculture icon, source: Art Explosion

Agriculture: Catfish Inspection

Repealing provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill that assigned U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service responsibility for examining and inspecting catfish and for creating a 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.

Action:

Congress should consider repealing provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill assigning the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) responsibility for examining and inspecting catfish and for creating a catfish inspection program.

Progress:

On February 7, 2014, the President signed into law the 2014 Farm Bill, which does not repeal the USDA catfish inspection program. Instead, it modifies provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill to, among other things, require USDA to coordinate with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to execute a memorandum of understanding that would, among other things, ensure that inspections of catfish conducted by USDA and FDA are not duplicative. GAO maintains that such a memorandum does not address the fundamental problem, which is that USDA’s catfish program, if implemented, would result in duplication of activities and an inefficient use of taxpayer funds. Duplication would result if facilities that process both catfish and other seafood were inspected by both USDA and FDA. In addition, USDA estimated that implementation of its catfish inspection program would cost the federal government and industry an additional $14 million annually. FDA estimated that its annual cost for inspecting catfish-processing facilities was about $700,000. Without congressional action to repeal the provision of the 2008 Farm Bill assigning USDA responsibility for examining and inspecting catfish, USDA’s catfish inspection program, when fully implemented, would duplicate FDA’s existing seafood inspection program.

  • portrait of
    • Steve Morris
    • Director, Natural Resources and Environment
    • morriss@gao.gov
    • (404) 679-1998
  • portrait of
    • John Neumann
    • Director, Natural Resources and Environment
    • neumannj@gao.gov
    • (202) 512-4645