Mad Cow Hurts Truckers

The incidence of Mad Cow disease in Washington state has begun to take a toll on the trucking industry. Although no comprehensive data are available, anecdotal evidence from around the nation indicate that truck carriers that haul beef are being hurt and the pain is spreading. For example, it has been widely reported that Pancost Trucking, a company that had been profitably hauling about eight containers

The incidence of Mad Cow disease in Washington state has begun to take a toll on the trucking industry.

Although no comprehensive data are available, anecdotal evidence from around the nation indicate that truck carriers that haul beef are being hurt and the pain is spreading. For example, it has been widely reported that Pancost Trucking, a company that had been profitably hauling about eight containers of beef weekly from Colorado to West Coast Ports has seen its business stop dead. The carrier’s two biggest customers have all but halted exports, because more than 30 countries have banned the import of U.S. beef. Owner Gerry Schaefer has tried to find work for his 20 drivers by hauling potatoes from Nebraska and pork out of Kansas, he says.

Officials of Salt-Lake City-based CR England, say they also are at a standstill when it comes to exports. Vice President Sean Snow estimates that his company could lose as much as $10 million because of the foreign ban.

Carriers that haul live cattle are being hurt, too. "There really hasn't been very many cattle bought since all this started," said Rick Yost, vice president of VY Truck Line of Sterling, Colorado. Yost's company normally carries about 5,000 head of cattle weekly. Although 90 percent of U.S.-produced beef is consumed at home, the amount slated for export is large enough to hurt trucking companies. Currently, more than $200 million worth of meat remains either at sea, at port or in refrigerated facilities here and abroad, industry officials say.

Some companies are benefiting, however. SCS Refrigerated Services of Portland, Oregon has received requests from producers and shippers seeking to store more than 10 million pounds of beef until the foreign ban is lifted.

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