US catfish producers seek stabilization, safety
Using words like “stabilize” and “resurrect,” U.S. catfish producers are optimistic about their industry after facing several years of challenges from high feed prices, reduced acreage and competition from imports. They are also awaiting the impact of the recent decision to change oversight for catfish inspection.
The outcome of the 2014 Farm Bill included a provision to move catfish inspection from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). A spokesperson with USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Service says the agency has a proposed rule regarding catfish inspection and will be working to publish a final rule within the appropriate time frame.
The agency is also fully prepared to work with all stakeholders, including the FDA, to assure that catfish inspection is implemented as outlined in the Farm Bill, according to the spokesperson.
Roger Barlow, president of The Catfish Institute (TCI), who supported the move, said “consumer confidence is critical” and inspection is an important aspect of that. As to which group should handle the inspections, Barlow pointed out “we’re not fishermen, we’re farmers” so USDA was the appropriate body.