Illustrative photo. (Source: VNA)

Washington (VNA) - US Senators John McCain and Kelly Ayotte have introduced a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act that would nullify the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) final rules establishing the catfish inspection programme.

Under the Congressional Review Act, the US Congress can overturn actions by a federal agency, like USDA, after a rule is formally published and submitted to the Congress. If the resolution is enacted into law, it would nullify the new catfish inspection rules, which were officially published on December 2, including any portions of the regulations that have already gone into effect.

"We are proud to continue the fight to repeal the USDA catfish inspection office, which is an egregious waste of taxpayer dollars and a classic example of anti-free market protectionism," Senators McCain and Ayotte said in a press release.

"The Obama Administration's establishment of this program comes despite the fact that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) already performs seafood inspections and the Governmental Accountability Office has repeatedly warned that the USDA catfish office would be 'wasteful and duplicative' and would invite retaliation from Asian-Pacific trading partners against American agriculture exports.”

“As a result of this program, the American taxpayer is estimated to be on the hook for 15 million USD a year to pay for USDA catfish inspectors who will be working alongside FDA inspectors doing the exact same job.”

“The true purpose of the catfish program is to erect a trade barrier against foreign catfish suppliers to the economic benefit of a handful of domestic catfish growers in southern states. Over the past several years, we've sponsored legislation to eliminate this program and we urge our colleagues to join us in sending a message that we won't stand for this wasteful catfish inspection office." said the Senators.

According to the USDA, the final rules will become effective in March 2016 and will be applied on both locally raised and imported catfish. The agency will conduct extensive outreach to domestic industry and international partners so that they fully understand requirements of the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) prior to its full implementation.

The rule’s effective date of March 2016 begins an 18-month transitional implementation period for both domestic and international producers. During the period, FSIS will re-inspect and conduct species and residue sampling on imported catfish shipments at least quarterly at US import establishments.-VNA