The law tasks USDA with inspecting catfish, instead of the FDA, which has long been responsible. The Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (Vasep), said the law would not immediately affect Vietnam’s tra shipments, but might next year. Vietnamese Embassy commercial counselor in the U.S. said that it would take Vietnam 5-7 years to upgrade the production and processing process to have its quality equivalent to that of U.S. farming, production and processing facilities in compliance with the new farm bill.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) would need 60 days from the date of the bill signed into law on February 7 to issue regulations on functions and duties of agencies mentioned in the law, Hoe said.
The program could only start after all guidance documents are made available, which means Vietnam’s fish exports to America would not take an immediate hit from the law, Hoe noted, adding the impact might be felt next year.
In a statement on its website, the Vietnamese Embassy in the U.S. voices objections, saying that the U.S. Congress has ignored free and equal trade with developing countries in Asia.
The long-stalled farm bill, which represents nearly $1 trillion in spending over the next 10 years and passed on a rare bipartisan vote, 68 to 32, produced clear winners and losers. Over all, farmers fared far better than the poor.
Other winners in the farm bill included the catfish industry, which benefited from a provision that moved catfish inspections out of the Food and Drug Administration and into a new $20 million office at the Agriculture Department.
Southern lawmakers said the office was needed because the F.D.A. lacks the resources needed to inspect imported catfish properly. But Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and a vocal opponent of the office, called it a protectionist measure intended to limit imports from countries like Vietnam.
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