Catfish farmers need more help

by

Published: October 10,2010

Tags: catfish farmers, editorial

U.S. catfish farmers are begging for relief to enforce a law approved by Congress more than two years ago.
What gives?
Why are our farmers having to get on their knees to ask for enforcement of USDA inspections and regulation of  all catfish sold in America?
Recently, aquaculture experts from around the country highlighted food safety concerns in urging the government to take action on the law.  
The law transfers the inspection and regulation of catfish from the FDA to the USDA, which has more stringent inspection and safety programs. Congress took the action after the Government Accountability Office reported that the FDA inspects only two percent of all seafood imported into the United States.
The problem is these folks just are not thoughtful enough to see the entire picture.
The domestic catfish industry, which is struggling against the cheaper imports, says better inspections are necessary to ensure safety.
There have been growing concerns over the last couple of years about catfish imported from China, Vietnam and Cambodia. The poor water quality where catfish are grown prompts growers in those countries to use antibiotics in production, but some of those drugs are not approved for use in the United States.
Growers in the United States follow stricter standards than catfish producers in Asia, and U.S. consumers should know what they’re getting when they eat catfish at a restaurant. Grocery stores already are required to label catfish products with country of origin, and we believe that no less should be expected of Mississippi restaurants.
Mississippi catfish growers have taken a huge financial hit from the import of catfish products, according to statistics from U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Maybe it’s time to ask House Democrat Bennie Thompson to step in Mississippi’s Second Congressional District to explain to them just how important the catfish industry is to the well being of so many here in the Magnolia State.
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