McCain urges USDA to delay catfish inspections

McCain urges USDA to delay catfish inspections
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Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainSenate's defense authorization would set cyber doctrine Senate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Defense: Senate passes 0B defense bill | 3,000 US troops heading to Afghanistan | Two more Navy officials fired over ship collisions MORE (R-Ariz.) is urging Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to delay a program set to inspect Asian catfish imports, calling the measure an example of "anti-free market trade protectionism."

"This wasteful program is a classic example of shortsighted, anti-free market protectionism at its worst," McCain wrote in a letter Thursday of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program, which is set to take effect next month and would heavily regulate imported catfish.

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McCain cited the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA itself in saying that "there is no legitimate food safety concern with catfish imports."

"The true purpose of the Catfish Inspection Program is to erect a trade barrier against Asian catfish imports at the command of a handful of domestic catfish farmers in southern states," he wrote.

The GOP senator pointed to the program's "wasteful and duplicative" costs, saying the government has already spent more than $20 million in taxpayer money "without inspecting a single catfish."

McCain is a longtime supporter of free trade and criticized President Trump's decision earlier this year to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Obama-era international agreement.