Sid Salter: US catfish face dogfight in House

Given that 80 percent of all American seafood is now imported from China, Vietnam or other countries in the same region, the U.S. Senate move to downgrade U.S. inspections remains hard to figure. Mississippi U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran was successful last year in forcing federal officials to implement new rules for catfish suppliers, requiring on-site inspections of catfish farms and processing plants for both domestic and foreign producers, mostly from Vietnam, to ensure they meet the same standards that have long been required in the U.S.

Mississippi U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker made a simple, direct appeal from the Senate floor: “American-produced catfish is inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at a rate of 100 percent. If the resolution passes, that will not go for foreign catfish. How does that make sense? How is that fair to American consumers when we have information that indicates clearly that there are different, less safe procedures overseas than we have in the U.S.? Let’s treat all catfish the same. We inspect American catfish. Let’s inspect foreign catfish.”…

…Now the battle shifts to the U.S. House of Representatives, where a group of Southern congressman and one Democratic congresswoman from Connecticut, Rosa DeLauro — long a food safety advocate — wrote the House leadership in both parties and asked that the House not take up the Senate CRA resolution overturning the catfish inspection program. All four Mississippi members of the House — Reps. Trent Kelly, Bennie Thompson, Gregg Harper and Steven Palazzo — signed the letter.

Clarion Ledger