CEO of Slade Gorton slams U.S. leadership's lack of action on catfish inspection bill

Published on
October 4, 2016

Kim Gorton, president and CEO of Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.-based seafood supplier and distributor Slade Gorton, has written an editorial in Forbes magazine blasting the leadership of the United States House of Representatives’ for the way they have handled proposed regulations governing inspections of imported catfish.

Since May, House leaders have tabled a resolution passed by the U.S. Senate in May that would eliminate a law that currently divides catfish inspection duties between the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Gorton wrote in Forbes that the current inspection situation is “wasteful and duplicative.”

“The program is a regulatory switcheroo that sees USDA take over catfish regulation from the Food and Drug Administration, which already inspects all seafood, and in the process erects a trade barrier to imported catfish competition,” Gorton wrote. “It’s a scam detailed in 10 separate Government Accountability Office reports.”

However, House leadership is dragging its heels on the resolution because of special interests, according to Gorton.

“Unfortunately, Speaker Paul Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy appear to have slept through the catfish debate to the point of failure. They have received directives from both chambers on this issue: the Senate’s majority vote as well a recently submitted letter signed by 220 members of the House calling for the opportunity to bring this matter to the floor. In the face of clear political will, Ryan and McCarthy’s inaction repeats a message that I and American business owners have heard far too often from Congress: Sorry, lady, we’re busy.”

Gorton, however, scoffs at the “busy” excuse in her op-ed.

“As a mother, a CEO and Republican in Massachusetts, I have faced more than a few instances of stubborn insolence but this one adds nonsensical to the list of apropos descriptors,” she wrote. “Are Ryan and McCarthy too busy to repeal a program that forces seafood companies to face costly regulation from both FDA and USDA? Too busy to get rid of a program that threatens to eliminate almost 30 percent of the wholesome, affordable white fish supply in the U.S. and American jobs along with it? Too busy to protect the production of more than one billion reasonably priced meals for low to average-income Americans, at a time when the government itself is telling all Americans to eat more fish?”

If Ryan and McCarthy are too busy, perhaps voters are “too fed up to support them and the gridlock they campaign so fervently against but embrace when it’s politically expedient,” Gorton wrote.

“In an election year, vulnerable Republicans would show wisdom in eliminating an unneeded program that costs taxpayers USD 200 million (EUR 178) million over a decade,” Gorton continued. “The GOP’s purported champions of responsible government can easily bring action and axe a regulation that embodies unhinged federal spending but its own leadership is standing in the way. The House has demonstrated that it has the votes to get rid of the program. Ryan and McCarthy have only need to do the math, or they can find out the hard way that delayed votes in the House and a full-on embrace of business as usual in Washington adds up to lost votes at the polls.”

Contributing Editor



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