TPA Leads Coalition Urging Repeal of USDA Catfish Inspection Program

Michi Iljazi

December 9, 2015

While Washington continues to move closer to their Christmas vacation, with much left to be done, TPA continues to remain hard at work looking at ways lawmakers and agencies can save taxpayers money this holiday season and beyond. Once program that continues to be prime for elimination is the unnecessary and wasteful Catfish Inspection program by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already has a program in place for inspection of imported catfish. Unfortunately, taxpayers are already out $30 million dollars and it is estimated the duplicative USDA program will cost tens of millions of dollars annually. With that in mind, Taxpayers Protection Alliance sent a coalition letter signed by Campaign for Liberty, Center for Individual Freedom, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Independent Women’s Forum, Independent Women’s Voice, Institute for Liberty, Less Government, National Taxpayers Union, R Street Institute, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, and Taxpayers for Common Sense calling on Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director, Shaun Donovan, to do what can be done in order to get rid of the wasteful program, as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has repeatedly recommended.

Read the full letter below:

Shaun Donovan
Office of Management and Budget
725 17th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20503

December 8, 2015

Dear Mr. Donovan,

As organizations that represent millions of taxpayers across the country, it is with great concern we write to you regarding the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) newly minted catfish inspection rule. The new and unnecessary bureaucracy created by the rule is one of the most demonstrably wasteful and duplicative programs ever enacted.

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has targeted USDA catfish inspection as part of its effort to get rid of wasteful government programs a total of nine times: February 2011March 2011May 2012February 2013April 2013April 2014December 2014February 2015, and April 2015. We can find no single program targeted by GAO as many times as this one.

After USDA spent $19.9 million to develop and study the catfish inspection program, it then told GAO it would cost the federal government an additional “$14 million annually” to run the program. This after GAO found FDA currently spends “less than $700,000 annually to inspect catfish.”

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.”

Despite the fact that USDA has published its rule and has begun moving forward with this program a strong, bipartisan coalition of 
government waste watchdogs continues to oppose the new regulation.

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.


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
George Landrith, President, Frontiers of Freedom
Sabrina Schaffer, Executive Director, Independent Women’s Forum
Heather R. Higgins, President & CEO, Independent Women’s Voice
Andrew Langer, President, Institute for Liberty
Seton Motley, President, Less Government
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

Sen. Michael Enzi
Senate Budget Chair

Rep. Tom Price
House Budget Chair