The USDA is catfishing catfishes

American catfish farmers are hoping to get a little more of their product on your dinner plate. And they’re a little peeved with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Five year ago, the USDA got $15 million to set up a new catfish inspection office that would come up with standards to set American catfish apart from their international competitors. Except so far, the office can’t agree on standards -- and hasn’t inspected a single fish.

"They do a great job with beef, pork, and poultry, and we would love to do the same thing with catfish," says Townsend Kyser, a catfish farmer in Greensboro, Alabama.

"We want to make sure we’re putting out a safe product and we want to make sure all other products tagging along with us are safe as we are."

Kyser has been waiting for those guidelines since the 2008 Farm Bill was passed. A new bill was passed in January, which has left him optimistic.

"We haven’t had much luck for the last five years, but we’re hoping we can all move forward from here."

For now, Kyser is getting ready for a busy time of year for catfish farmers across the country – Lent.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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