Mad-cow driving layoffs in Canada

| Thursday, August 07, 2003

American owner-operators have tough times due to rising fuel cost, diminishing rates and other factors, but consider the plight of Canada’s truckers who haul beef.

Canada’s mad-cow crisis recently resulted in the layoff of 15 truckdrivers from Roberge Transport's Winnipeg office. The company is based in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and Lloydminster, Alberta.

Currently, only 40 of the company's 120 trucks are on the road. In Winnipeg, the fleet of 18 trucks has been cut down to three. Overall, the country reports more than 4,000 layoffs in the beef industry as a result of the crisis. Other casualties include fuel companies, farm equipment dealers, lumber yards and rendering plants.

According to press reports, the company is trying to transport products other than cattle, such as furniture or dry goods. The company is also thinking of selling some of its cattle trucks, even though there isn't much of a market for them in Canada right now.

While the United States has acknowledged Canadian beef is safe after a Canadian investigation into the case of mad cow disease in May, U.S. officials have refused to open the border to Canadian beef because they fear being shut out of Japan, the biggest importer of U.S. beef.

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