| ,
| RSS | |



Arts · Politics · Crime
· Sports · Food ·
· Opinion · NOLA ·


Defender Picks


Sen. Landrieu Sinks McCain's Foreign Catfish Campaign

As he has done plenty of times before, U.S. Sen. John McCain is standing up for catfish farmers from...Vietnam. The one-time presidential candidate and Vietnam war vet continued his crusade to stave off a trade war with the Southeast Asian countries during last week's Farm Bill debate. This time, however, McCain brought the war to the home front when he managed to insult Gulf seafood in the process. Louisiana's own Sen. Mary Landrieu wasn't having it, and sent McCain's amendment back to the bottom of the legislative pond.


In order to keep trade relations with Southeast Asia strong, McCain wants to keep catfish imports coming in to the U.S instead of favoring Southern catfish farmers. One way McCain claims that farmers are fighting imports is through an inspection office in the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would put tougher restrictions on foreign fish.


McCain added an amendment to the Farm Bill to do away with the Catfish Office. Then, he went on to call out the South and its Made-in-the-USA seafood. In an op-ed over the weekend in Politico the Arizona senator claimed that Southern catfish farmers dialed up friends in high places because they were having trouble selling "crusty mudcats." The office would ban catfish imports to the U.S. for seven years because the foreign fish would raise food safety concerns, McCain writes.


On the Senate floor, Landrieu objected to McCain's amendment, thereby killing the offering in accordance with Senate rules. Louisiana's senior Senator was making good on a promise to object to any Republican amendment - no matter what it was - until she got a vote on her own amendment that would relieve homeowners from forthcoming flood insurance increases. Landrieu also supports the inspection program.


"It is important that we continue to fund the inspection programs, which ensure that all catfish consumed in the U.S.—domestic and imported—is safe and healthy. Claims that this program provides subsidies to domestic producers are untrue. This program provides an important layer of protection against unregulated, uninspected and subsidized catfish produced in Asian countries," she said.


But beyond inspections, these arguments are also apparently a matter of taste. Instead of looking to Southern catfish farmers, McCain wrote, American eaters prefer imports.


"When American families dine on shrimp, tilapia, or the occasional fried catfish, they tend to prefer good-tasting seafood at the best prices, which generally comes from the vast supply of imported Asian seafood," McCain wrote.


That assertion leaves out the domestic seafood industry. And, yes, McCain brought the Bayou State's beloved shrimp into the mix.


"The elimination of this program would place Louisiana and American fish farmers at a further disadvantage to their Asian competitors, many of whom are heavily subsidized by their home governments to the tune of 62 percent of production costs," wrote Landrieu. 


Currently, less than 1 percent of imported catfish is inspected by the Food and Drug Administration, Landrieu's office said.


The Farm Bill passed the Senate without the catfish amendment, but its fate remains uncertain. That's because a committee in the House signed off an amendment to kill the inspection program. If there aren't any changes during the House process, that means the differences will have to be resolved in a House-Senate conference committee.

view counter
view counter
view counter
view counter
view counter
view counter
Erin Rose
view counter
Follow Us on Facebook
view counter
view counter


Renard Boissiere, Evan Z.E. Hammond, Naimonu James, Wilson Koewing, J.A. Lloyd, Nina Luckman, Dead Huey Long, Alexis Manrodt, Joseph Santiago, Andrew Smith, Cynthia Via, Austin Yde


Art Director

Michael Weber, B.A.


Listings Editor

Linzi Falk

Editor Emeritus

Alexis Manrodt

B. E. Mintz

Stephen Babcock

Published Daily