The farming and processing of tra fish in the Mekong Delta region will encounter more difficulties when a new US farm bill takes effect, yet it’s also an opportunity for Vietnam to restructure the sector in a sustainable way, Vice Chairman of the Tra Fish Association Vo Hung Dung has said.

The US Senate on February 4 gave final congressional approval to a five-year farm bill.

Under the provision, the inspection of catfish, including Vietnamese tra and basa fish (scientifically named Pangasius) , will be moved out of the remit of the Food and Drug Administration and into the Department of Agriculture.

Accordingly, Vietnamese catfish exported to the US market will have to fulfill all requirements set for local products from production to packaging and exporting.

While the move poses challenges, it will also jolt the industry into restructuring for more sustainable production, Dung said.

Pham Anh Tuan, Deputy Director General of the Directorate of Fisheries under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said Vietnam is not surprised at the US decision, but Vietnamese farmers and processors will still need time to adapt to the bill.

According to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), the country exported 380 million USD worth of tra fish to the US in 2013, up slightly from 2012.-VNA