Senate Brings Repeal of Wasteful USDA Catfish Inspection Program One Step Closer

Michi Iljazi

May 27, 2016

It’s rare that taxpayers get a victory, but the Senate moved towards a very important goal this week on getting rid of the wasteful and duplicative United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) catfish inspection program.  The Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been trying to get rid of this program for years.  We are a step closer.  The Senate voted this week to eliminate the program.  The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has now targeted the unnecessary and duplicative bureaucracy created by this program a record ten times!  The USDA spent $19.9 million to develop and study the catfish inspection program then told GAO it would cost the federal government an additional “$14 million annually” to run the program. This after GAO found the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently spends “less than $700,000 annually to inspect catfish.”   TPA sent a coalition letter this week urging support for the resolution that the Senate ultimately voted to approve, SJ Res 28, sponsored by Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and co-sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeanne Shaeen (D-N.H.). It’s time for the House to move on repealing this wasteful program and we hope they will take that up soon.

Read the letter below.


Senator Kelly Ayotte
144 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510

May 23, 2016

Dear Senator Ayotte,

As organizations that represent millions of taxpayers across the country, we write to support your efforts to repeal the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) catfish inspection program. We are pleased to see you and your cosponsors, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), using the Congressional Review Act to repeal one of the most demonstrably wasteful and duplicative programs ever enacted.

The unnecessary and duplicative bureaucracy created by this program has now been targeted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) a record ten times:  February 2011March 2011May 2012February 2013April 2013April 2014December 2014February 2015April 2015, and April 2016.

The USDA spent $19.9 million to develop and study the catfish inspection program then told GAO it would cost the federal government an additional “$14 million annually” to run the program. This after GAO found the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently spends “less than $700,000 annually to inspect catfish.”  If the cost of other, similar regulatory programs is any guide, the USDA program will cost far more than the estimated $14 million.

The GAO also notes that it not only wastes taxpayer dollars and duplicates work already being done by the FDA, it actually weakens, rather than strengthens, our food safety systems:

“…the agency’s proposed catfish inspection program further fragments the federal oversight system for food safety without demonstrating that there is a problem with catfish or a need for a new federal program.”

Eliminating wasteful federal spending and burdensome regulation is a very difficult task, especially when proceeding one program at a time.  But the value to taxpayers of doing so is undeniable.  Thus, as you gather support for S.J. Res 28, please know we strongly support this effort to close the book on this now infamous and embarrassing example of government waste.

The USDA catfish work is an embarrassing waste of tax dollars and so overtly duplicative a program it belongs in the annals of Washington waste history.

Sincerely,

David Williams, President
Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Norm Singleton, President
Campaign for Liberty

Jeff Mazzella, President
Center for Individual Freedom

Tom Schatz, President
Council for Citizens Against Government Waste

Sabrina Schaffer, Executive Director
Independent Women’s Forum

Heather R. Higgins, President & CEO
Independent Women’s Voice

Brandon Arnold, Executive Vice President
National Taxpayers Union

Andrew Moylan, Executive Director & Senior Fellow
R Street Institute

Karen Kerrigan, President & CEO
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council

Steve Ellis, Vice President
Taxpayers for Common Sense