June 06, 2016
SENATORS AYOTTE SHAHEEN HIGHLIGHT BIPARTISAN EFFORTS TO
ELIMINATE DUPLICATIVE CATFISH INSPECTION PROGRAM AT HIGH LINER
FOODS IN PORTSMOUTH
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For Immediate Release
Senators Ayotte Shaheen Highlight Bipartisan Efforts to Eliminate Duplicative Catfish Inspection Program at High Liner Foods in Portsmouth
Jun 6, 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) visited High Liner Foods in Portsmouth today to discuss the recent Senate passage of a Resolution of Disapproval that would block the duplicative U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to inspect catfish. During their visit, High Liner Foods President and CEO Keith Decker thanked the senators for their bipartisan efforts to eliminate this program.
"The USDA catfish program has eliminated a major source of growth at our manufacturing plants, and is limiting future opportunities, including our ability to grow jobs in Portsmouth. Ending this program will save taxpayers' dollars, will ensure High Liner Foods does not have a USDA inspector in our facility for our catfish and a second federal system for all our other fish. It will also ensure American families don't experience skyrocketing prices, due to the elimination of about 22% of valuable white fish supply," said High Liner Foods President and CEO Keith Decker.
"Congress' own accountability group has recommended its elimination 10 times. The President wants the program defunded. Even the USDA's own food safety experts admit that USDA oversight will not improve food safety, because FDA has so well-regulated this program that no one is getting sick from catfish," Decker continued. "I applaud the efforts of both Sen. Shaheen and Sen. Ayotte to help secure passage of this resolution in the Senate. Thanks to their leadership, we're very close to finally eliminating this wasteful program."
"The USDA's duplicative catfish inspection program is hurting businesses like High Liner Foods by burdening them with the prohibitive cost of complying with additional, unnecessary inspections. I was pleased to discuss the recent Senate passage of a resolution to dissolve this wasteful government spending program with High Liner Foods employees today, and will continue to work together with Senator Shaheen to eliminate this program once and for all," said Senator Ayotte.
"High Liner Foods is an example of the businesses in New Hampshire and around America being burdened by the USDA's duplicative catfish inspection program. For more than four years, I've led the effort to end this unnecessary program. This has nothing to do with food safety; it's an illegal trade barrier that wastes taxpayer dollars and threatens jobs in New Hampshire and across the country. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to speak with High Liner Foods employees about my efforts to get rid of this program," said Senator Shaheen.
The senators have worked together to nullify the USDA's final rules establishing the catfish inspection program. Under the Congressional Review Act, Congress can overturn actions by a federal agency, like USDA, after a rule is formally published and submitted to Congress. If the resolution is enacted into law, it would nullify the new catfish inspection rules, which were officially published on December 2, including any portions of the regulations that have already gone into effect.
The prohibitive cost of the new USDA catfish inspection program is preventing High Liner Foods from expanding its operations.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) traditionally has been tasked with oversight of all fish, including catfish. However, a provision included in the 2008 Farm Bill removed FDA oversight of only catfish, transferring inspection responsibilities to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) within USDA. The switch requires seafood companies that handle catfish and any other seafood product to be subject to redundant and inefficient regulations from both FDA and FSIS. This inefficient use of taxpayer dollars duplicates inspection activities because, according to GAO, facilities that process both catfish and other fish would be inspected by both USDA and FDA regulation.