YOUR OPINION: Letters to the Editor April 24, 2013

By NEMS Daily Journal

Catfish farmers protest inspections elimination
I’m writing to express my outrage and frustration at the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the Obama Administration.
They are publicly claiming that the USDA catfish inspections are a “duplicative program” and should be eliminated. This irresponsible political nonsense is not only incorrect, it is insulting to those of us who are a part of the Mississippi catfish industry.
The costs referenced in the GAO report are simply wrong. No funds have been spent to date on USDA catfish inspections because the program, as outlined in the 2008 Farm Bill, has not yet been implemented. Furthermore, if catfish inspections are moved from the Food and Drug Administration to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as the farm bill requires, there will be NO overlap with other federal food inspection programs. Moving catfish inspections to the USDA is a consolidation, not a duplication of inspection programs.
The Catfish Farmers of Mississippi support USDA catfish inspections because we know that the Food and Drug Administration provides insufficient safeguards for the American consumer. The USDA already inspects all other agriculture. Aquaculture is agriculture – therefore it only makes sense to transfer inspection of catfish from FDA to USDA. By FDA’s own admission, they inspect a shockingly low percentage of the seafood coming into the U.S.
The U.S. government has a duty to maintain the safety of our nation’s food supply. Preventing USDA from inspecting catfish may expose consumers to products that originate from countries who do not abide by the same strict safety standards as we do. It’s no secret that importers bringing foreign fish into the U.S. are using their deep pockets to cloud this issue.
Our message is simple: U.S. consumers deserve the best inspection of its food supply, and USDA is the best agency to accomplish that goal.
Shorty Jones
2013 Mississippi Catfish Farmer of the Year
Glen Allan