US Agriculture

Does the USDA Catfish Inspection Program help U.S. Agriculture?

The USDA Catfish Inspection Program is a special-interest driven trade barrier that would hurt U.S. Agriculture. Everyone from soybean farmers and cattle ranchers to pork producers and wheat growers know this program has the potential to kill exports and cost real American jobs. The scheme is designed only to help a small special interest group at the expense of the rest of our agriculture community. The catfish program will hurt American agriculture.

If you want to know who this program hurts, just ask the country’s leading agriculture groups and agriculture companies.                      

Cargill                                                                                 Grocery Manufacturers Association
Hormel Foods                                                                     National Council of Farmer Coops
National Meat Association                                                National Milk Producers Federation
National Oilseed Processors Association                         National Pork Producers Council
National Restaurant Association                                      National Turkey Federation
Retail Industry Leaders Association                                 Smithfield Foods
United States Dairy Export Council                                  United States Grains Council
United States Meat Export Federation                             USA Poultry and Egg Export Council
Western Growers Association                                           United States Meat Export Federation
American Meat Institute                                                   Food and Agriculture Export Alliance
Seaboard Foods                                                                 American Soybean Association
National Restaurant Association
Food Marketing Institute


  •  “The catfish rule could easily be seen by foreign exporting nations as such an unjustifiable trade barrier. The U.S. has and continues to successfully remove non-science-based and other unjustifiable barriers that negatively affect U.S. agricultural exports. Implementing such a rule has the potential to weaken future U.S. efforts if it is perceived as engaging in the same type of activity.”
  • “If this rule were to be implemented and then challenged under international trade laws, which we believe would happen, we would also face the prospect of retaliation by at least two important and growing export markets for farm products, China and Vietnam.”
  • “[The program] almost certainly violates the trade obligations the Congress and Administration have agreed to implement… and almost certainly will result in retaliatory measures that would harm U.S. exports.”

If you want to know how important these markets are to American farmers just ask Agriculture Secretary Vilsack.

  • “We are in the most successful period in history for America’s agriculture sector, with agricultural exports this year expected to set yet another record. We will continue our efforts to break down barriers and expand access for high-quality, safe and wholesome U.S. food and agricultural products… around the world.”
    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack 01.28.12
  • “Our farmers and ranchers support one in 12 American jobs today, with unlimited potential in the years ahead as we grow and export more. Exports of quality U.S. agricultural products already support more than a million jobs here at home, and USDA will continue working with the President to open new markets for U.S. agriculture in Europe, Asia and around the world.”
    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack 02.15.13

Experts in trade know the USDA Catfish Inspection Program puts U.S. agriculture interests in the crosshairs of a potential trade war that American farmers did not ask for. 

  • “Catfish-exporting countries are likely to retaliate by imposing barriers on U.S. exports, hurting many successful U.S. businesses.”
    Sherzod Abdukadirov, Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center
  • “Because WTO litigation is intensely fact-specific…we are always reluctant to express definitive opinion about a possible case in a preliminary assessment. This case, however, stands on somewhat different ground… In our view, Vietnam would have a very strong WTO case against the United States.”
    “… there is nothing ‘disguised’ about this protectionism.”
    James Bacchus, former chief judge on the highest international tribunal of world trade (WTO) and former Member of the Congress.

Members of Congress know the USDA catfish inspection program is bad for U.S. agriculture trade.

  •  “The catfish office offers no legitimate food safety benefit. Its true goal is to erect trade barriers…”
    Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
  • “[The program] will invite trade retaliation abroad…”
    Sen. John Kerry (D-MA)

The media know the USDA Catfish Inspection Program is a bad deal for American agriculture.

  • “[the fight over the program has] raised the prospect that Vietnam could bar American beef in retaliation.”
     –Wall Street Journal Editorial 06.21.12
    • “No wonder this [program] has American exporters worried about retaliation… the Vietnamese could block imports of U.S. beef in response, and producers of soy products also have reason to be nervous.”
      Wall Street Journal Editorial 02.22.11
  • “There’s no reason for America to launch a trade war with Vietnam over fish.”
    Wall Street Journal Editorial 07.14.09

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