Senator John Kerry wins inclusion of two measures in Farm Bill aimed at aiding fishing industry
WASHINGTON -- Senator John Kerry won passage of two amendments designed to aid Bay State fishermen and catfish producers, as part of a massive overhaul of the country’s farm policies passed by the Senate on Thursday.
The most significant components of the a five-year, half-trillion-dollar farm bill have to do with the elimination of $2 billion in spending for farm subsidies and land conservation. The bill garnered a bipartisan vote of 64 to 35, with both Massachusetts senators voting in favor.
Kerry’s provisions would be subject to approval by the House, which has yet to act on a farm bill of its own.
One of Kerry’s amendments makes Massachusetts fishermen eligible for emergency disaster loans. The other measure would eliminate the US Department of Agriculture’s Catfish Inspection Office, which Kerry said would eliminate “duplicative and unfair regulations.”
Senator John McCain of Arizona co-authored the catfish amendment with Kerry.
Catfish production is currently regulated by both the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration.
“This is a big dual win for Massachusetts fishermen. Because we got these amendments passed, our seafood processors won’t be subjected to a moronic double-regulation and our fishermen will be eligible for immediate disaster relief,” Kerry said. “I’ve had one goal in this debate on the farm bill, and that’s to make the point that fishermen from the Northeast who risk their lives to put food on our tables needed to be treated with the same respect as farmers in the Midwest. These are two victories towards enacting that principle into law.”
Senator Scott Brown joined Kerry in authoring the provision allowing fishermen to be eligible for low-interest USDA loans when an area has been declared a disaster area by federal officials.
“Massachusetts fishermen continue to feel the squeeze of overregulation and unaccountability from Washington,” Brown said in a statement released by Kerry’s office.Bobby Caina Calvan can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on twitter @GlobeCalvan.