Mad Cow Bites Carriers, Shippers

Mad Cow Bites Carriers, Shippers

Copyright 2004, Traffic World, Inc.

One mad cow can cause a lot of mischief. Thousands of ocean containers were blocked from entering overseas ports and major beef producers all but stopped exports after a cow slaughtered in Washington Dec. 9 tested positive for the disease. It was the first case of mad cow disease reported in the United States.

More than 35 countries banned U.S. beef, stranding shipments already at sea and leading to the stockpiling of containers of beef at U.S. ports. The beef industry is struggling to get those shipments released.

"We estimate there''s close now to about 2,200 containers of product, which equates to about 45 thousand metric tons of product," in limbo, said Phil Seng, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation. "That equates to about $250 million that''s either in customs storage or it is on the water, so this is major as far as industry concerned."

If cargo is shipped back to the United States spoilage will be a concern, as beef has a refrigerated shelf life of about two months.

Mad cow disease is driving some truckers crazy, too. Carriers that haul refrigerated beef from processing plants to ports are scrambling to find other cargo.

"We''ve been having to run over to Nebraska to get potatoes," Gerry Schaefer, owner of Pancost Trucking, told The Associated Press. Sterling, Colo.-based Pancost usually trucks beef to West Coast ports for Tyson Foods and Excel, a division of Cargill.

Salt Lake City-based truckload carrier CR England told The Associated Press it could lose as much as $10 million in revenue if the bans on U.S. beef aren''t revoked.