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Catfish industry launches campaign

JACKSON — The Catfish Farmers of America has launched a major advertising and public safety awareness campaign urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to enact a Congressionally-approved law requiring all imported catfish to meet the same stringent health and safety standards as imported beef, poultry and pork.

“We’ve launched this campaign because of the urgency of this health and safety issue,” said Joey Lowery, president of the Catfish Farmers of America. “We need Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to enact this law now. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our families. U.S. catfish farmers fully support the toughest and widest-ranging regulations and inspections that will protect American consumers when it comes to catfish, both imported and domestic.”

The Catfish Farmers of America advertising campaign is targeting Washington, D.C.-based decision-makers and opinion leaders.

While the USDA currently inspects and ensures the safety of all meat and poultry products sold in the United States, it does not inspect seafood. The inspection of seafood is conducted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Last year 5.2 billion pounds of seafood were imported into the United States from foreign countries. However, the FDA inspected only two percent of all imported seafood, including catfish, according to the Government Accountability Office.

In a bipartisan appeal, Sen. Blanche L. Lincoln (D-Ark.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, urged Vilsack to “support a broad definition of catfish that will ensure that catfish products meet the standards for safety that Americans have come to expect from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.”

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