WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Catfish inspections could be on the chopping block. After a heated debate, the Senate narrowly voted to stop the U-S Department of Agriculture from inspecting the fish. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) is fighting fiercely to keep these federal inspections alive.
"We do it well,” said Wicker. "It’s under controlled circumstances.”
Wicker says catfish inspections need to continue for the safety of consumers.
"We’re very careful about what we feed those catfish,” said Wicker. “So it’s safe, and it’s inspected to make sure it’s safe.”
Opponents of the inspections say there’s something fishy surrounding Wicker’s motives. They think he wants to squash competition from places like Vietnam, where the fish comes cheaper. They also believe an inspection program like this is waste of money. But Wicker claims it's cost-effective at just over $1 million a year.
"What the Senate is trying to do and what we hope to prevent, that’s going to cost us jobs in Mississippi, and create more economic opportunity in an area of the world where they’re just not as careful about food safety,” said Wicker.
In a statement, the USDA said, “The Administration has always prioritized appropriate controls that result in a safe food supply for American consumers. The Administration also seeks to ensure regulatory certainty for those throughout the supply chain. The USDA rule resulted from a clear congressional directive in the 2014 Farm Bill that required the USDA to act. The Administration will continue to work with Congress to continue to maintain the safety of food supply, while ensuring regulatory certainty.”
The blocking of the rule now moves over to the House.