Sessions sends letter supporting foreign catfish inspection program

Published 11:42 am Thursday, November 7, 2013

U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., led a bipartisan letter to the House-Senate Farm Bill Conference urging them to preserve the USDA’s foreign catfish inspection program as they work on finalizing the Farm Bill.

“I am going to fight for these jobs,” Sessions said. “Our catfish farmers should not be unfairly disadvantaged by foreign imports that skirt the rules. It is only right that foreign catfish producers comply with health and safety standards. All Americans benefit when we defend the legitimate interests of American workers on the world stage.”

In June of this year, the Senate passed a farm bill that kept in place the USDA inspection program for catfish. The program was originally authorized in the 2008 farm bill when Congress decided that all catfish, whether produced in the United States or abroad, should undergo the same rigorous health and safety standards in order to keep consumers safe.

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However, the version of the farm bill recently passed by the House would eliminate the inspection program. The letter sent by Sessions and other senators encourages the Senate to exclude the House provision from the final bill.

The letter explains that less than two percent of imported seafood is inspected, and that analysis has shown that there are banned drugs and chemicals in fish imported from Vietnam and China.

Other senators to sign the letter were Mark Pryor, D-Ark.; Richard Shelby, R-Ala.; Roger Wicker, R-Miss.; David Vitter, R-La.; and Mary Landrieu, D-La.

More than 5,800 jobs in Alabama are directly related to the catfish industry, and the industry generates more than $158 million for the Alabama economy.