May 27, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today indicated that he wants the Obama Administration’s nominee to lead the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service to support implementation of a federal law to begin inspections of catfish.
Cochran serves on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee that today conducted a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Dr. Elisabeth Hagen to be the USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety.
Cochran submitted a question to Hagen regarding the implementation of a catfish inspection program as mandated in the 2008 Farm Bill. Proposed USDA rules for such inspections were issued in February, but were subjected to a 90-day hold in February by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
“While the catfish inspection regulations are still under review within the White House, I am hopeful we can see a resolution of this issue soon. I would like a commitment from Dr. Hagen that she will take swift and decisive action to institute new policies requiring the Food Safety and Inspection Service to enforce standards for all catfish sold in the United States,” Cochran said.
“The aquaculture industry in Mississippi and around the country believes the American public deserves to know that any catfish they purchase meets food safety standards,” he said.
The Senate Agriculture Committee must favorably recommend Hagen’s nomination before it can be forwarded to the full Senate for confirmation.
In March, Cochran also pressed Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on the lack of action in implementing the catfish inspections. In the President’s FY2011 budget request, the administration submitted a proposal to rescind $10.3 million of the $15.3 million provided by Congress for the USDA Catfish Inspection Program.