Friday, August 2, 2013

Senators in Big Fight Over – Catfish Inspecting –

The World’s Oldest Best Dumbest Deliberative Body

It is sometimes hard to disagree with conservative opposition to the federal government when it turns out the United States Senate is one of the largest collections of ignoramuses ever assembled since the Republican National Convention.  The U. S. Senate is largely dysfunctional.  It takes 60% approval to pass legislation.  One Senator can place an indefinite hold on a Presidential nomination.  Most members from both parties are egomaniacal jerks.

Now it turns out that the Senate is all bound up in a dispute over whether or not the Agriculture Department or the FDA should regulated and inspect catfish.

Here I am,
go ahead, inspect me,
At issue is a little-known provision in the 2008 bill that established an office within the Agriculture Department to inspect catfish. But those inspection programs also exist at the Food and Drug Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration at the Commerce Department.

The Agriculture Department has traditionally inspected meat and poultry while the F.D.A. has inspected all other foods, including seafood.

Well of course it makes sense to divide food inspection between two agencies.  A lot more waste that way.  And the argument over whether or not Ag or FDA should inspect catfish, well that’s just another group of special interests trying to get their way.

Catfish farmers and producers in Mississippi say their support of a catfish inspection program at the Agriculture Department is about food safety and imported catfish.

“The F.D.A. is understaffed and little inspection is done of the fish that comes into this country,” said Dick Stevens, the president and chief executive of the Consolidated Catfish Company in Isola, Miss. “Fish raised in other countries have been found to have drugs in them. We’re just saying everyone should be held to the same standard.”

But that argument has little sympathy outside of the catfish industry.

And who is out there supporting duplication and waste?  Why it’s ultra conservative Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran.

A staunch defender of the domestic catfish industry, Mr. Cochran was instrumental in getting the inspection provision in the 2008 farm bill. Mississippi leads the nation in catfish production, and a research facility at Mississippi State University dedicated to the study of catfish is the Thad Cochran National Warmwater Aquaculture Center.

Mr. Cochran is the ranking member on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Congressional aides, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said he was instrumental in making sure the McCain-Shaheen amendment to eliminate the Agriculture Department program, which passed easily in the Senate’s version of the farm bill in 2012, was not brought up for a vote in this year’s bill.

And how effective has Ag been in its inspection program?

Since 2009 the Agriculture Department said that it has spent $20 million to set up the catfish inspection office, which has a staff of four. The department said that it expects to spend about $14 million a year to run it. The F.D.A. spends about $700,000 a year on its existing office.

Despite the cost, the Agriculture Department has yet to inspect a single catfish.

Yep, staff of 4, annual costs $14 million, number of inspections, zero.  This Forum would be willing to send a catfish filet to the Ag department and ask them to inspect it, but is afraid that by the time the catfish got to the Ag folks in charge of catfish it would be in such bad shape that we would be accused of sending hazardous material through the mails.  But hope springs eternal, maybe next year the Ag folks will find a catfish to inspect.  Here’s a hint people, they sell them at your local Giant food store.

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