At least two meatpacking firms with operations in Canada may face legal charges for failing to provide financial details to Members of Parliament looking into what happened to millions of dollars in government aid during the country's Mad Cow crisis.
The House of Commons Agriculture Committee is considering action against Cargill Foods of Winnipeg and Alberta-based Lakeside Packers. The two companies reportedly refused the committee's deadline to provide financial statements. They, along with Montreal's Levinoff Meats Ltd., were found in contempt.
A Cargill spokesman says the company felt that for privacy reasons, it couldn't provide the details the committee is demanding. Lakeside Packers charged the case has become "political" in nature.
The companies have been asked to outline how much their costs were increased by new safety rules following the outbreak of Mad Cow in May 2003. They also were asked to provide monthly profit margins for all of 2003 and to explain why prices they paid for feeder steers fell by half after the government aid package was announced.