Prominent leaders are calling on the White House to promptly rescind mandate.
“One way to make this drastically worse overnight is to take tens of thousands of truck drivers and forbid them from entering the country, leaving countless amounts of essential freight at the doorstep of our country,” Transportation Intermediaries Association CEO Anne Reinke reportedly said. “TIA continues to be an advocate for truck drivers, and we are calling for an end to these misguided policies towards truck drivers.”
Truck drivers helped shepherd both the U.S. and Canada through the height of the pandemic when fear and uncertainty about the virus caused millions to retreat. Deemed essential workers on both sides of the border, truckers risked infection long before vaccines reduced the risk of hospitalization. Now Pres. Joe Biden and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have implemented policies requiring cross-border truckers to get the shot or face stiff financial consequences. With thousands of truckers protesting in Canada’s Freedom Convoy, America’s agriculture leaders fear significant repercussions.
“Part of prioritizing public health and safety is ensuring (that) access to a safe, abundant food supply remains uninterrupted,” Robert Guenther, chief public policy officer for the International Fresh Produce Association, reportedly stated.
Ron Lemaire, president of the Ottawa-based Canadian Produce Marketing Association, recently went on the record expressing fears about price gauging. He indicated that upwards of 90 percent of Canadian truckers may be vaccinated, while only 50-60 percent of American truckers opted for the shots. Lemaire says that refrigerated truck pricing recently spiked by upwards of 50 percent.
“The issue right now we’re looking at is we have predatory pricing,” Lemaire reportedly said. “Costs are escalating, and the cost burden will have to be pushed through the system.”
The U.S. is suffering through 40-year high inflation as The Fed prepares a series of interest rate hikes that will reduce small business and owner-operating borrowing opportunities. Canada recently hit 30-year high inflation, and predatory pricing will only add to the problem.
Rather than debate the merits of getting the vaccine or not, North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring is making a pragmatic stand on the issue. With potentially half of American cross-border truckers and as many as 32,000 Canadian CDL holders sidelined, the situation remains untenable.
“Over 75 percent of U.S.-Canada trade moves by truck,” Goehring reportedly said. “Forcing this vaccine mandate on the industry will hurt the livelihoods of truckers, create further supply chain disruptions and cause price increases in essential goods.”
The Agriculture Commissioner reportedly wants the vaccine mandate lifted immediately. Dropping the requirement seems fair and reasonable when you consider truckers risked their health safety, and lives, during the height of the pandemic.