Thanks, Joe Biden: Starting This Weekend, Get Ready for Produce to Burn a Big Hole in Your Wallet
Most of us are keenly aware that the price tag for our weekly trip to the supermarket is significantly higher today than it was a year ago.
Unfortunately, due to the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate on truck drivers that’s scheduled to go into effect on Jan. 22 — on top of Canada’s newly imposed requirements — the cost will move higher still.
Although President Joe Biden’s OSHA vaccine mandate for businesses was blocked by the Supreme Court last week, the mandates for the trucking industry remain in place. This will seriously impact consumer prices for produce in both America and Canada.
Both countries will require all truckers crossing the U.S./Canada border to show proof of vaccination.
Canada’s rules, which took effect on Jan. 15, require unvaccinated truckers returning to the country to show “a negative, molecular Covid-19 test taken 72 hours prior to reaching the border before they are allowed entry. Those drivers will also have to quarantine for a 14-day period,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
The U.S. will deny Canadian truck drivers “without two shots” of a vaccine entry into the country.
The new measures will wreak havoc with our current supply chain woes and lead to higher prices for consumers.
In remarks to Bloomberg on Monday, George Pitsikoulis, the CEO of Canadawide Fruits, estimated that the new rules will force Americans and Canadians to pay up to 25 percent more for produce.
Bob Costello, the chief economist of the American Trucking Association (ATA), told The Wall Street Journal, “We believe these mandates will only serve to push drivers out of the industry or away from these routes, further straining the supply chain between the U.S. and our biggest trading partner.”
And this is no small matter. According to The Journal, in 2019, trade between the U.S. and Canada totaled more than $600 billion. They cited U.S. trade data that estimates 80 percent of goods traded are transported by truck.
Stephen Laskowski, the president of the Canadian Trucking Alliance, told The Journal that a recent survey had found over 10 percent of Canada’s approximately 120,000 truckers remained unvaccinated. Referencing data from Statistics Canada, Laskowski said there were currently 23,000 job vacancies in the industry and added that, “We are already short truck drivers in Canada.”
The ATA estimates that approximately 50 to 60 percent of U.S. truck drivers are fully vaccinated.
Lance Dixon, senior vice president of Omaha, Neb.-based truck carrier Werner Enterprises Inc., told The Journal he expected “increased delays at the border resulting from freight bottlenecks as agents verify vaccine status of drivers, officials educate those who are unprepared, and drivers become accustomed to this new procedure.”
In December, Global News, a Canadian media outlet, reported that Canadian logistics company Fuel Transport, was offering a “$10,000 prize to all truck drivers who have gotten their first dose of COVID-19 vaccination by mid-January.”
In a telephone interview, the company’s CEO Rob Piccioni told the outlet he made the move to retain employees, to boost vaccination rates and to shorten waiting times at the border.
He said, “It wasn’t just a pure play to motivate them to be vaccinated, but the opportunity was there to put it in and it was well-received.”
Piccioni hoped to send a message to his drivers: “We know we kept you out of our buildings. We know we kind of alienated you. Thank you for sticking through it.”
Considering the mutually assured misery these ill-advised, heavy-handed and utterly unnecessary initiatives will surely bring to vast numbers of people, one would think a solution could have been worked out between the Canadian and American governments.
With inflation already at a 40-year high, why would the Biden Administration instigate something that will push prices even higher?
Additionally, trucking is such a solitary occupation. Drivers spend long hours alone on the road. Personal interaction is a minor part of the job.
And why now? We’ve managed to make it through two years of the pandemic without government vaccine mandates.
Biden never seems to run out of ways to tell the American people he couldn’t care less about us.
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