The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Let the USDA Catfish Inspection Program Off The Hook!

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) catfish inspection program has already been called out on nine separate occasions, February 2011March 2011May 2012February 2013April 2013April 2014December 2014February 2015, and April 2015, by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) as a program that duplicates another catfish inspection program operating at the Food & Drug Administration.  With the release of its April 2016 report on duplication, the GAO once again highlighted the problem

GAO (among others) has recognized that taxpayers are paying for two catfish inspection programs and it suggested, rationally, that one should be let off the hook.  Shocker: that didn’t happen.  In 2013, the Senate passed a provision to create a new catfish inspection office under the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), while blocking an amendment to eliminate the program entirely.  According to a 2013 CAGW release:       

“The new FSIS program is redundant.  The USDA has not historically had jurisdiction over the fishing industry.  The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is charged with inspecting fish from overseas, while the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) ensures health and safety measures for catfish farming with a pay-for-service program.  The FDA also conducts random inspections of catfish farms, which is a more cost-effective alternative than the proposed USDA daily inspections.  An April 2013 GAO report targeting duplicative programs across the federal government concluded that “…should USDA begin the catfish inspection program as mandated in the [2013] Farm Bill, the program would duplicate work already being conducted by FDA and by the National Marine Fisheries Service...”

In 2014, President Obama took a stab at trying to eliminate the duplicative USDA program…he failed as well.

Fast forward to today, the GAO has targeted this program for the tenth time in five years. Unless lawmakers put an end to the USDA catfish inspection program, taxpayers will continue to pay $14 million a year for something that is already being done by another agency.  Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) have been extremely outspoken about this outrageous misuse of taxpayer funds. Yet, for some reason, Congress seems unable to eliminate the USDA catfish program.  Why?  Might want to ask Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) about it.  Hey, who says one mud cat cannot make a difference in this world?   

If members of Congress need a road map on where to begin the uphill climb to rein in the out-of-control budget they have created, and to begin to winnow back the $19 trillion debt that hangs over the country, they should start with all the duplicative federal programs that exist throughout the bureaucracy.

 

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