Lawmakers want to spear catfish inspection program

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The two will introduce an amendment to the farm bill to repeal the USDA program.

“Business, industry leaders and members of both parties agree that repealing the USDA Catfish Inspection Program is a smart move that will help eliminate excess spending and save tens of millions of taxpayer dollars,” said Shaheen in a statement.

The Senate approved an amendment from McCain to end the program during negotiations over last year's farm bill, though the House did not pass a full farm bill. 

"This time Senator Shaheen and I look forward to frying the USDA catfish office once and for all,” he said in a statement.

This year, the House version of the bill includes an amendment to kill the USDA program. That amendment was introduced by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.). 

The USDA normally regulates meat and eggs, and leaves fish to the FDA.

But the FDA inspection regime is not strong enough, supporters of the additional inspection office say.

Critics of the program say that the program is meant to protect the domestic catfish industry and could provoke a trade dispute with Vietnam by regulating that country's imports out of American markets.

Vietnam is a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a far-reaching trade deal involving 11 nations. The Obama administration wants to finish the negotiations on that deal this year.

A Government Accountability Office study of the USDA program found that it would result in "duplication of effort and cost," and it recommends that inspections be left to the FDA. 

Shaheen and McCain introduced legislation to end the program in March, and Reps. Hartzler and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.) introduced a similar bill in the House.