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.


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.


No legislative action identified.On February 7, 2014, the President signed into law the 2014 Farm Bill, which did not repeal the USDA catfish inspection program. Instead, it modified 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 (MOU) that would, among other things, ensure that inspections of catfish conducted by USDA and FDA are not duplicative. The 2014 Farm Bill also provided USDA a timeline for issuing final program regulations and implementing the program. USDA and FDA signed the MOU on April 30, 2014.USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service had planned to issue the final program regulations in December 2014; however, the proposed final rule is currently with the Office of Management and Budget for review. GAO maintains that the April 2014 MOU does not address the fundamental problem that USDA’s catfish program—which becomes effective once USDA issues final program regulations—would be an inefficient use of taxpayer funds and a duplication of activities because facilities that process both catfish and other seafood would be 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 actions taken under FDA’s existing seafood inspection program.

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    • Steve D. Morris
    • Director, Natural Resources and Environment
    • (202) 512-3841