John McCain, with whom I sporadically agree is making a valiant, but probably futile attempt to excise one egregious bit of rotten special interest legislation from the bloated farm bill.
If the chairman and ranking member have their way, the Farm Bill will soon ban catfish imports for seven years due to “food safety concerns” while USDA organizes a specialized catfish inspection office. During that time, southern catfish farmers become big fish in a much smaller pond – at the taxpayer’s expense.Bless your heart, John. But make sure your insurance is in order when this Pork Truck runs over you.
I obviously support maintaining a safe food supply. But seafood inspections already fall under FDA’s jurisdiction, which requires foreign catfish farms to follow the same food-safety standards as domestic farms. Unless catfish have suddenly sprouted legs, USDA should stick to meat, poultry and egg inspections.
Don’t take just take my word for it: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) investigated this catfish sham and in four different reports concluded that it is duplicative of FDA’s standards and a waste of taxpayer money. One GAO report, simply entitled “Inspecting Catfish Should Not Be Assigned to USDA,” said the department would use “outdated and limited information” and “the cost-effectiveness of the catfish inspection program is unclear because USDA would oversee a small fraction of seafood imports.” That same report calls on Congress to repeal the catfish inspection program.
I hope supporters of good government will join us in publicly demanding that the Senate’s Farm Bill managers allow a vote on this amendment. This is one fishy deal that needs to be fried on behalf of the American taxpayer. [More]
This is why I don't take many of the fiscal hawks seriously: they only want to cut everyone else's slice of the federal pie.
In the same vein, kudos to Sens. Roberts and Thune for voting no.
Meanwhile, the Brothers Koch have joined the fray on the same side as...uh, me.