Have you heard any complaints from Asian exporters about this yet?

“I haven’t heard yet – but it’s a little early. I haven’t heard an official response.

“They know they’ve been under a lot of scrutiny in the last year. Yet, I saw where 47 shipments of fish were turned down in 2010. So, I guess even though they’re under so much scrutiny, they haven’t fully cleaned up their act yet.”

Is CFA encouraging people to comment?

“We’ll have 120-day comment period and people need to write letters. It’s very important that people let USDA know what they think about this. Hopefully, there will be overwhelming response to make this happen.

“I’m confident that consumer groups are on board with this.

“The only opposition I can see is the importers. Everyone else seems to want this to happen.”

Note: comments may be submitted at www.regulations.gov, e-mailed to fsis.regulationscomments@fsis.usda.gov, or sent by mail to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSIS Docket Clerk, Room 2-2127, George Washington Carver Center, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Mailstop 5272, Beltsville, Md. 20705.

On when a final rule may finally be set in stone…      

“Well, there’s a 120-day comment period. Then, it usually takes about 30 days to come out with a final rule. But if they’re still having trouble making their minds up, they can take 90 days.

“Then, there’s an implementation phase. So, I think we’re looking at sometime in 2012 before the rule is actually working for us.”  

On the coming cropping season and high grain prices…

“The high price of grain has a direct impact on our feed costs. It will make it more expensive to raise fish.

“About every $10 extra you spend per ton of feed, on average, adds about a penny per pound in production costs. And it doesn’t look like there’s a lot of relief ahead for corn and soybeans prices.

“That’s especially true with cotton prices up so high. All the crops are going to be fighting for acres. Instead of going with corn, I figure cotton will be planted on cotton land, this year.”