Senators criticize Commerce over catfish import policing

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sens. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss) say catfish producers in Mississippi and other states are being harmed by the U.S. Department of Commerce not doing enough to stem a flood of imported fish products.

Cochran and Wicker have signed a letter to acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank urging her to enforce an anti-dumping order against frozen fillets from Vietnam. The letter, signed by eight senators, is critical of the Commerce Department’s handling of the Vietnamese frozen fillet anti-dumping case and the resulting “surge in the volume of low-priced imports.”

“The precipitous decline of the American catfish industry can be directly linked to Commerce Department actions that have allowed the U.S. market to be flooded with imported alternatives. Mississippi catfish producers and the people they employ deserve fair treatment from this administration. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case right now,” Cochran said.

The letter to Blank points out that Vietnamese imports have tripled since 2008 and now account for more than 75 percent of the U.S. market. The senators point to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics that indicate the market share maintained by U.S. catfish producers has dropped from 80 percent to 20 percent since an antidumping case was filed.

The letter was organized by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and was also signed by Sens. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Vitter (R-La.).

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