• This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, January 2, 2004, that was edited for clarity.

    Watch Your World w/Cavuto weekdays at 4 p.m. and 1 a.m. ET.

    BRENDA BUTTNER, HOST: Beef producers still reeling from the mad cow fallout. My next guest has already laid off more than a third of his workers. And now, he may have to shut down if the U.S. beef ban drags on. Joining me live on the telephone from Fremont, Nebraska, is Les Leech, chief operating officer of Fremont Beef.

    Thanks so much for joining us, sir.

    LES LEECH, COO, FREMONT BEEF COMPANY: You’re welcome, Brenda.

    BUTTNER: Well, in part, you have had to lay off these workers because you depend so much on the export market?

    LEECH: That’s correct. Ninety-five percent of our business hinges on our ability to export beef products to Japan.

    BUTTNER: And you know the truth is that we have no -- I mean, the government obviously doesn’t have any say over what Japan does. I mean, they are scared of getting tainted beef and they have a much stricter testing system over there.

    LEECH: Well, I think the key issue right now is how we negotiate with Japan in an effort to restore trade. We have to go to them, understand the Japanese psyche, and work with them in improving our safeguards so they can show to their constituency that they are taking the precautions necessary to safeguard their health.

    BUTTNER: And that may take some time, sir, though.

    LEECH: Yes, it will.

    BUTTNER: In the meantime, how long can you hold on to your business?

    LEECH: Well, because we’ve had layoffs and we have stopped the purchasing of all the beef items that we would export to Japan, we have reduced our expenditures, thus extending the amount of time we’re going to be able to survive. And we’re doing this because we hope that this situation will be remedied within the near future, and we’re hoping, you know, within a couple months, and then we can resume operations, bring back the people that we have had to lay off, and hopefully be a little bit better and stronger for it. Because during this time we’re working feverishly to develop other items pork and poultry items, to try to replace some of the protein losses.

    BUTTNER: OK.

    LEECH: But I think, Brenda, you might understand this a little bit. If you weren’t allowed to advertise, what kind of situation would Fox be in?

    BUTTNER: Well, sir, we appreciate your situation and wish you the best of luck.

    LEECH: Well, thank you.

    BUTTNER: That’s Les Leech, of Fremont Beef Company.

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