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The system is brittle, and we’re going to break it: Cam Dahl on impacts of vaccine mandates

By: RealAgriculture Livestock Team

January 18, 2022

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On January 15th, Canada officially put in place a vaccine mandate for cross-border truck drivers. The United States is planning on doing the same starting January 22nd.

Cam Dahl, general manager of the Manitoba Pork Council, says from the perspective of the pork industry, the entire system is already strained and it’s uncertain know what could be coming next.

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“Before any of this happened, we were short trucks, and the system was short drivers. So, we have a system that’s already under enormous strain, and if you take a system like that and pull out additional trucks or additional drivers, the impact is significant,” Dahl explains, noting that some of the larger trucking companies are expecting to lose up to 10 per cent of their drivers, because of the mandates.

It’s not just one side of the border that’s going to be impacted either, says Dahl, as the U.S. market is a major market for weanling pigs coming out of Manitoba. (Story continues below video)

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“I’m hearing reports from producers that they are already having their shipments cancelled, prior to the U.S. mandate coming in. Pigs keep growing. This isn’t something that we can go oh, well, I’ll ship it in six weeks from now. It doesn’t work that way. And we’re also getting significant impacts on feed and feed ingredients that are coming north — or are supposed to be coming north. So hearing producers that are already short on soybean meal, for example, it’s a significant ingredient in feed rations,” he explains. “So it’s already impacting movement in both directions.”

Different political figures, including the Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra, have been focusing on the “resilience of the system,” saying these mandates will create more resiliency in the supply chain. Dahl does not see it this way, and as he explains, there’s a lot more fragility to it than some may think.

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“It seems that the system is brittle, and we’re gonna break it,” Dahl says. “The system was brittle going into this, and this extra strain is really going to create problems.”

Related:

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Farm groups react to impending mandatory vaccine mandates for truck drivers

Truckers and supporters protest vaccine mandate at busiest Manitoba-U.S. border crossing