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USDA Seeks Input on U.S. Standards for Grades of Catfish and Catfish Products

USDA AMS is seeking feedback from stakeholders to develop a standard and a voluntary grading program for catfish. The agency is particularly interested in research, industry data, and background information from catfish producers, suppliers, processors, retailers, and foodservice operators, as well as comments related to the catfish quality standard that is currently implemented by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).

July 21, 2016

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is inviting stakeholders to provide information to assist in the development of voluntary U.S. Standards for Grades of Catfish and Catfish Products.

The 2014 Farm Bill (The Agricultural Act of 2014) directed the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a voluntary, fee-based grading program for catfish.  AMS will use feedback from this notice to develop a standard and a voluntary grading program for catfish.  The agency is particularly interested in research, industry data, and background information from catfish producers, suppliers, processors, retailers, and foodservice operators, as well as comments related to the catfish quality standard that is currently implemented by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).  There will be additional time for stakeholder feedback before implementing a grading program.

The USDA grade shields assure consumers that products have gone through a rigorous review process by highly-skilled graders that follow the official grade standards.  AMS develops and revises U.S. standards for nearly 240 agricultural products in close partnership with industry stakeholders to ensure that the standards reflect current practices.  These standards provide a common language for buyers and sellers of commodities and are widely used by the agricultural industry in domestic and international trading, futures market contracts, and as a benchmark for purchase specifications in most private contracts.

The Notice will publish in the July 14, 2016, Federal Register.  Comments, information, and data relating to this notice are due no later than Sept. 12, 2016.  Stakeholders are invited to submit comments, information, and data by using the electronic process available at www.regulations.gov or by email:catfishgrading@ams.usda.gov.  Written comments, information, and data may also be submitted to Catfish Grade Standards, Quality Assessment Division (QAD), 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Stop 0258, Room 3932S, Washington, DC 20250 or by facsimile to (202) 690-2746.

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