Govt finally ready to make big spending cuts on… catfish

posted at 10:01 am on June 1, 2013 by Jazz Shaw

This is one of those strange little stories that wash up in a remote corner of the federal government and, once lodged in place, never seem to go away. Back in 2011 I published a short piece on the pressing issue of government catfish inspections. As of the last agriculture bill, the USDA began inspecting imported catfish, even though the FDA was already doing inspections on all seafood. This duplication of effort and cost got one Arizona Senator up in arms.

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has been digging into this proposal since March, calling it, “nothing more than a protectionist tactic funded at taxpayers’ expense.” Speaking as one of the few isolationists in the crowd, I’m all for a good protectionist tactic now and then, but this is a major expenditure of money going to no discernible purpose. Of all the industries in the country that face challenges in the modern era, catfish production doesn’t exactly leap to the top of the list.

As the linked article demonstrates, repeated and extensive testing of catfish, both domestic and imported, have resulted in such low levels of contamination in each that it’s rated as a low-risk food. These new layers of regulation will initially cost 30 million dollars of wasteful spending to taxpayers, adding up to hundreds of millions over the years to follow.

Well, that’s pretty much exactly what happened, and the very same Senator McCain is still chasing that bunny.

The farm bill has a reputation and it’s not a good one.

Every five years, lawmakers pass the omnibus legislation renewing and setting agricultural, nutritional, conservation, and forestry policy. It’s unwieldy and often assailed for perpetuating arcane, outdated, and wasteful provisions. And on Tuesday, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and John McCain, R-Ariz., plan to target one such program: an Agriculture Department catfish-inspection program that would cost $14 million a year in wasteful spending, they say…

Repeal the provisions that set up the new program, GAO recommended, and the government would save about $14 million a year. Doing so is “a matter of common sense,” Shaheen said in a statement. The amendment she and McCain plan to file “will help eliminate excess spending and save tens of millions of taxpayer dollars,” she said.

Why am I still talking about this story? Well, on the one hand, it’s got a lot of obvious snark potential, given the elements of slimy fish, slimy politicians and wasteful spending. But it’s really not a joke, and that’s the point I wanted to make. Yes, the amount of money in question is yet another of those items which is considered a “rounding error” in terms of the federal budget. But as we’ve discussed before, how many of these types of problems are buried in the mountain of bureaucratic red tape? To paraphrase what the man once said, ten million here, ten million there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.

How many politicians who were either running for President or legislators who wanted to be involved in budgeting have promised us that they would “take a fine tooth comb” to the budget and clean things up? Obviously nobody has come through on that promise. And when they try, each and every expensive boondoggle seems to have at least one defender who cut a deal with some donor to make sure that their little reward stays on the books. And as long as that doesn’t change we’re never going to climb out of this hole.


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Catfish may be slimy, but they are GOOD eatin’.

TheLoudTalker on June 1, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Problem is you can never scale back on catfish.

Amendment X on June 1, 2013 at 10:24 AM

And I refuse to get hooked on any catfish puns.

Amendment X on June 1, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Problem is you can never scale back on catfish.

Amendment X on June 1, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Left myself open for that one hook, line and sinker.

Jazz Shaw on June 1, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Noodling hardest hit.

trs on June 1, 2013 at 10:35 AM

And I refuse to get hooked on any catfish puns.

Amendment X on June 1, 2013 at 10:25 AM

Well played.

nobar on June 1, 2013 at 10:35 AM

well, catfish are bottom feeders-

bazil9 on June 1, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Bbbubutbutbut, catfish inspections must be carried out by specially trained catfish inspectors, otherwise inspections may traumatize catfish and we would have catfish extinction on our hands!

Anyone who opposes this is an evil right-winger who wants to destroy Holy Mother Gaia for Evil Profit!

SAVE THE CATFISSSHHH!!!!

Or, translated into non-hysteria-driven, non-bureaucratic English;

Somebody at USDA saw an opportunity to create a cushy little office for themselves, by co-opting environmentalist and “food safety” dogma.

That was the reason. But you can bet that the above quote will be trotted out by somebody every time it is suggested that this program is, in fact, superfluous.

clear ether

eon

eon on June 1, 2013 at 10:40 AM

Am I supposed to read them their rights? Right before they hit the frying pan?

katy the mean old lady on June 1, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Reagan would disapprove of the wasteful spending on the catfish.

National Catfish Day is a national observance of the United States celebrating “the value of farm-raised catfish.” The day was designated as June 25, 1987, by President Ronald Reagan, who issued the Presidential Proclamation after the U.S. Congress called for the day to be established in House Joint Resolution 178.

bazil9 on June 1, 2013 at 10:47 AM

Right before they hit the frying pan?

katy the mean old lady on June 1, 2013 at 10:43 AM

No, right before you dredge in egg wash & cornmeal. ;)
Standard procedure.

bazil9 on June 1, 2013 at 10:49 AM

I still find the term “farm raised” catfish hilarious. But then, I can drop a line anywhere here in south Florida and catch enough for dinner.

katy the mean old lady on June 1, 2013 at 10:52 AM

No, right before you dredge in egg wash & cornmeal. ;)
Standard procedure.

bazil9 on June 1, 2013 at 10:49 AM

and Cajun seasoning.

katy the mean old lady on June 1, 2013 at 10:53 AM

and Cajun seasoning.

katy the mean old lady on June 1, 2013 at 10:53 AM

Oh yes, I forget that part. :)

hell, the only way I will eat catfish is fried-so we have a problem..Mooch and crew don’t approve.

But as we’ve discussed before, how many of these types of problems are buried in the mountain of bureaucratic red tape?

If we have no idea and cannot list what they are…kinda adds to the boondoggle.
I am sure it is more then we can guesstimate.
Like prison poetry..
yeah..a little here..a little there..
Why we are in the hole. It all adds up.
McCain..concerned about the fish..super!- but not the enormous cost of illegals in his own state or the country. What deals is he cutting?
Oh, currently with islamic POS.

bazil9 on June 1, 2013 at 11:10 AM

I know cats love to eat fish, but I’ve never seen a cat fish. Or a dog paddle.

backwoods conservative on June 1, 2013 at 11:15 AM

McCain is only against the extra scrutiny of catfish because they’re imported from Mexico.

Left Coast Right Mind on June 1, 2013 at 11:15 AM

This article gives me an urge to go drop a line in the lake.

trigon on June 1, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Stupid question…
why are WE importing catfish?

Like Katy said..I an go catch one right now.

How are the trout doing?

bazil9 on June 1, 2013 at 11:22 AM

I know cats love to eat fish, but I’ve never seen a cat fish. Or a dog paddle.

backwoods conservative on June 1, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Well I’ve certainly seen cat fish. Pretty much like bears, scooping minnows out of a creek in upstate NY when I was kid. More for the sport I think, than food. The cat was perched on a big flat (dry) rock in a shallow pool.

JimK on June 1, 2013 at 11:31 AM

backwoods conservative on June 1, 2013 at 11:15 AM
Well I’ve certainly seen cat fish. Pretty much like bears, scooping minnows out of a creek in upstate NY when I was kid. More for the sport I think, than food. The cat was perched on a big flat (dry) rock in a shallow pool.

JimK on June 1, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Yep, my kitties love to fish..
ask my fish in the aquarium and the goldfish the cat ate right out of the bowl. ;)

bazil9 on June 1, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Funny, but cat fishermen know that cats can actually “taste” through their skin. That sounds like the kind of thing the Holder/Obama complex would love to be able to use in their mego-spying agenda.

“Hmmm, tastes good, like this guy was praying lately, call the tech squad in right away.”

Don L on June 1, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Can’t get rid of these because each of them has its sponsor / donor, and Congress certainly needs to cooperate to get anything done.

OK, fine. Push the program to the States. Some Congress-critter needs a special interest? Let him/her get it funded in his/her State. No problem.

Lather. Rinse. Repeat. A couple of ten thousand times. Make the lobbyists spread their efforts across 50 States to get their funding.

ss396 on June 1, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Stupid question…
why are WE importing catfish?

bazil9 on June 1, 2013 at 11:22 AM

The same reason we import shrimp from freakin’ China, Bangladesh, Thailand, etc.

BallisticBob on June 1, 2013 at 11:44 AM

The same reason we import shrimp from freakin’ China, Bangladesh, Thailand, etc.

BallisticBob on June 1, 2013 at 11:44 AM

I know..
Same reason I catch my own or buy only local/fresh here.

bazil9 on June 1, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Jazz -

You have no idea how excited I am about weekends with you on HA and dynamic threads like this./Sarc.

bw222 on June 1, 2013 at 12:16 PM

I still find the term “farm raised” catfish hilarious. But then, I can drop a line anywhere here in south Florida and catch enough for dinner.

katy the mean old lady on June 1, 2013 at 10:52 AM

When my friend graduated from Texas A&M, he decided to go into Catfish Farming. He bought a truck load of baby catfish and planted them on his 25 acres farm. They all died. After thinking about it, he realized he had planted them “head-down”. He replanted then, but this time, tail down. They also died. So he called the Dept. of Ag. in DC and told them his problem. They said they would have to research it and get back to him. They called back the next week and said: Send us a soil sample.

Alabama Infidel on June 1, 2013 at 1:03 PM

Catfish may be slimy, but they are GOOD eatin’.

TheLoudTalker on June 1, 2013 at 10:12 AM

GACK!!!!! If the thing hasn’t spent most of its life in salt water, it’s inedible.

catsandbooks on June 1, 2013 at 1:08 PM

well, catfish are bottom feeders-

bazil9 on June 1, 2013 at 10:36 AM

That explains it. McCain has been seen hanging out with Schumer and Durbin.

Alabama Infidel on June 1, 2013 at 1:10 PM

well, catfish are bottom feeders-

bazil9 on June 1, 2013 at 10:36 AM

That explains it. McCain has been seen hanging out with Schumer and Durbin.

Alabama Infidel on June 1, 2013 at 1:10 PM

Let’s not smear bottom-feeders here.

trigon on June 1, 2013 at 1:17 PM

This is an important use of your hard-earned tax dollars, yes, during sequestration.

No, no, don’t hang your officials. Just ridicule them and send them home, the thugs.

The fish part is at the very beginning.

Schadenfreude on June 1, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Fort to type “Work harder, suckers!”

The Looters/Moochers need more of your efforts.

Schadenfreude on June 1, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Duh, forgot to type…I’m just too upset that the gov’t is laughing at you.

Schadenfreude on June 1, 2013 at 1:21 PM

TheLoudTalker on June 1, 2013 at 10:12 AM

GACK!!!!! If the thing hasn’t spent most of its life in salt water, it’s inedible.

catsandbooks on June 1, 2013 at 1:08 PM

You must have never had mountain trout, not from a farm, just from a clear mountain spring or lake…mhhh, pity.

Schadenfreude on June 1, 2013 at 1:27 PM

TheLoudTalker on June 1, 2013 at 10:12 AM

GACK!!!!! If the thing hasn’t spent most of its life in salt water, it’s inedible.

catsandbooks on June 1, 2013 at 1:08 PM
You must have never had mountain trout, not from a farm, just from a clear mountain spring or lake…mhhh, pity.

Schadenfreude on June 1, 2013 at 1:27 PM

No way he’s had Crappie or Bream either.

Alabama Infidel on June 1, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Schadenfreude on June 1, 2013 at 1:19 PM

If you don’t want to listen to the MP3 file Schaden linked to, what it is all about, is that the Feds just gave out a $472,150 to teach another bottom dwelling fish how to evade predators:

LegendHasIt on June 1, 2013 at 2:05 PM

No way he’s had Crappie or Bream either.

Alabama Infidel on June 1, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Indeed. A platter full of fried Crappie is what makes it worth staying up all night fishing.

backwoods conservative on June 1, 2013 at 3:11 PM

well, catfish are bottom feeders-

bazil9 on June 1, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Are you saying it’s a professional courtesy, then? One bottom feeder to another?

GWB on June 1, 2013 at 4:03 PM

Are you saying it’s a professional courtesy, then? One bottom feeder to another?

GWB on June 1, 2013 at 4:03 PM

The catfish are a bit less slimy.

backwoods conservative on June 1, 2013 at 4:07 PM

No, right before you dredge in egg wash & cornmeal. ;)
Standard procedure.

bazil9 on June 1, 2013 at 10:49 AM

and Cajun seasoning.

katy the mean old lady on June 1, 2013 at 10:53 AM

…dammit!…now I have to go to the market and get some…and we WERE going to have taco’s tonight!

KOOLAID2 on June 1, 2013 at 4:47 PM

Problem is you can never scale back on catfish.

Amendment X on June 1, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Left myself open for that one hook, line and sinker.

Jazz Shaw on June 1, 2013 at 10:34 AM

What’s reel is real.
But that’s just a line.

Amendment X on June 1, 2013 at 6:47 PM

Anybody even thinking about making big spending cuts on catfish hasn’t EATEN any.

From humble and tasty fried catfish at the Ga./Alabama state line store on any Friday … to fancy schmamcy ‘Chinois on Main’ in Santa Monica, CA … Flash fried catfish is undoubtedly great eatin’.

YUM!

marybel on June 1, 2013 at 10:15 PM

Actually after living along the Texas Gulf coast for a while,salt water catfish taste real bad.I was told this ,so had to try it myself,they were correct.

BruceB on June 1, 2013 at 11:08 PM

Double-inspection of catfish is important: much more important than feeding the troops in Afghanistan…

/SARC>

landlines on June 2, 2013 at 12:06 AM