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Government Determined to Waste Money on Catfish

If you don’t remember the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM), better known as the Farm Bill, here’s a quick refresher:

Put simply, the farm bill is an anathema to free enterprise, limited government, and individual responsibility. The House version (H.R. 6083) authorizes $957 billion in spending over 10 years, 80% of which will go towards food stamps. Despite erroneous claims in the media regarding severe cuts to food stamps, this bill actually consummates the Obama-era baseline into our entitlement empire forever.

Nothing too shocking. I believe at this point we’re all used to seeing billions and trillions tossed around and given out like we’re printing the stuff. With all that money going around, it’s sometimes hard to remember that these bills are made up of thousands of pork projects and new bureaucracies with price tags that fall well below the cumulative numbers but still represent a shocking aversion to fiscal restraint.

It’s easy to guffaw at $14 million in waste when we are running a $1.7 trillion deficit, but let’s not forget our collective (and appropriate) outrage at NPR funding which by many accounts, receives less than $4 million per year directly from the government.

But $14 million is precisely what will continue to be wasted after the House Agriculture Committee approved the Farm Bill while rejecting an amendment by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) which would have streamlined catfish inspections (yes, catfish inspections) and save taxpayers millions.

Unbelievably enough, the farm bill believes that the FDA, which already inspects catfish, needs helps from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) because, I can only assume, catfish have been sneaking into our country illegally.

Either way, it seems that the Agriculture Committee found it too important to America to allow us tone limited to only one gigantic bureaucratic monstrosity regulating catfish. Dammit, we gotta keep on top of these things! The fate of our catfish supply is at stake!

Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo., proposed an amendment to leave catfish inspection with the FDA saying that USDA inspection was duplicative and threatened a trade war. Hartzler noted that the $15 million price tag far surpassed the $700,000 that FDA spends annually on inspection of all fish.

Yes, fifteen times the cost the FDA is currently spending to do the same thing. This is what Republicans and Democrats agreed was too important to slash from their pork riddled Farm Bill. Meanwhile, even the Senate recognized how silly the duplicative spending would be and voted to repeal the USDA Catfish Inspection Office (I can’t believe I had to type those words) giving the House the chance to finalize the savings. But the House just couldn’t pull it off.

All this for a low risk food, one which the Government Accountability Office (GAO) flatly acknowledged would likely “not enhance the safety of catfish but would duplicate FDA and NMFS inspections at a cost to taxpayers.”

$14 million is enough money to pay off my house and let me live comfortably for the rest of my life. $14 million is enough to feed thousands and thousands of families that need help. It’s enough to fix roads, fund schools, or refund money to taxpayers.

Yet for all the talk about changing how Washington works and getting our fiscal house in order, the amendment was defeated 25-20 and the monstrous Farm Bill was overwhelmingly passed. Both parties joined in on the spending spree.

I think we need to start fishing for legislators in another pond.

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