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Posted 05/05/2020

COVID-19 Member Alert

Member Update: May 5, 2020


The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) is continuing to work on issues related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 


Following is an update on important coronavirus-related topics:


Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has resumed processing applications for their Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program and is now focused on agriculture. EIDL provides eligible small businesses up to $2 million to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses that could have been met had the pandemic not occurred. Agricultural businesses include those businesses engaged in the production of food and fiber; ranching and raising of livestock; aquaculture; and all other farming and agriculturally related industries.


EIDL funds are intended to cover payroll and other operating expenses that the business could have otherwise met in a non-disaster economy. Funds cannot be used for refinancing, making loan payments on other federal debts, to repair physical damages, to pay IRS tax penalties or to pay out dividends. Interest rates for EIDLs are statutorily set at 4 percent per annum, but COVID-related EIDL rates have typically been around 3.75 percent for companies and 2.75 percent for non-profits and can have maturities up to 30 years. Principal and interest payments of EIDLs can be deferred for up to one year. Collateral is generally required for loans over $25,000 if it is available, though SBA will not decline loans for a lack of collateral. While loan amounts may range up to $2 million, specific loans depend upon the amount of economic injury that a business has suffered. This amount is determined by the SBA on a case-by-case basis after businesses apply.


More information about EIDL can be found here


Eligible agricultural businesses may apply for the EIDL loan advance here.


North Dakota attorney general among those calling for investigation into packing practices 

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and the attorneys general from 10 other Midwestern states are urging the Department of Justice (DOJ) to pursue a federal investigation into suspected national price fixing by meat packers in the cattle industry.


In a letter to U.S. Attorney General William Barr, the attorneys general expressed concern over the likelihood of manipulation of the market for processed beef. The attorneys general say the pricing margins are a sign that meat packers are using their ability to control the market for processed beef and take advantage of the situation in a manner that could violate the federal antitrust law. 


Stenehjem and the other attorneys general believe the situation warrants a full federal investigation because the alleged anti-competitive conduct harms consumers and cattle ranchers across the United States. 


North Dakota and co-sponsor states Colorado, Missouri and Montana were joined by Arizona, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.


To read the full letter, click here.


Last month, the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and fellow cattlemen’s organizations from around the country also called on the DOJ for this investigation. That letter can be read here


North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and Foundation to provide Beef Relief for hungry families

The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association and the North Dakota Stockmen’s Foundation are teaming up to provide beef for a growing number of families in need as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. The non-profit organizations have developed the Beef Relief Program, donating $20,000 to the Great Plains Food Bank to purchase beef from North Dakota ranchers to help feed struggling families in the state. The Great Plains Food Bank supplies more than 200 food pantries, shelters, soup kitchens and charitable feeding programs. 


“There are so many people who are suffering due to the economic fallout caused by the pandemic,” said North Dakota Stockmen’s Association President Dan Rorvig, a McVille, N.D., cow-calf producer. “Even as they deal with their own challenges, North Dakota cattle ranchers recognize this as an important way they can help their neighbors.”


North Dakota Stockmen’s Foundation President Warren Zenker is a cow-calf producer and feeder from Gackle, N.D. “North Dakota cattle ranchers are proud of the beef we raise,” he said, “and we are proud to be able to put beef on the tables of those who otherwise might not be able to.” 


Since the pandemic began, the Great Plains Food Bank has seen North Dakota’s food needs soar. Pantries are reporting a more than 44 percent increase, while the Great Plains Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry distributions are seeing nearly an 80 percent increase in households served. 


“Beef is one of the most requested items from our network of partner food pantries, shelters and soup kitchens, along with our clients,” said Great Plains Food Bank President Melissa Sobolik. “This donation will go a long way in putting high-quality beef on the tables of so many hungry children, seniors and families throughout the state struggling during a difficult time.”


Rorvig said that many ranchers have inquired how they too can help stock the Great Plains Food Bank with North Dakota beef, and he encourages those who wish to help to do so. A helpful Frequently Asked Questions document about the state and federal regulations related to donating meat can be found here. More information about other ways to support the Great Plains Food Bank can also be found here.


To read the full release about the Beef Relief Program, click here.


“Intersection of the Cattle and Beef Industries” series begins this week

Cattle producers, consumers and decision-makers will have an opportunity to learn more about current issues in the cattle and beef industries through a webinar series that North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension is co-hosting with Texas A&M Agrilife Extension and West Virginia University. The first two-hour webinar in the “Intersection of the Cattle and Beef Industries” series will be held May 7 at 7 p.m. CT.


The webinar schedule is as follows:

• May 7: Overview of mCOOL, imports and exports, packer profits, local meats, protein industry euthanasia and the beef checkoff

• May 12: In-depth perspective of mCOOL, imports and exports

• May 14: In-depth perspective of packer profits

• May 19: In-depth perspective of euthanasia of livestock

• May 21: In-depth perspective of local meats: challenges and opportunities

• May 26: In-depth perspective of the beef checkoff

• May 28: In-depth perspective of how cattle are priced: a discussion about price and value discovery and the futures market

• June 2: Virtual packing plant tour

• June 4: In-depth perspective of ground beef, heavy carcasses and imports

• June 9: In-depth perspective of domestic and international supply and demand

• June 11: Historical overview of the beef industry from “The Jungle” to today

• June 16: In-depth perspective of changes in how beef is supplied to grocery stores and restaurants

• June 18: In-depth perspective of the steer and heifer complex

• June 23: In-depth perspective of cow and bull complex

• June 25: In-depth perspective of drop credit, hide and offal


Registration is required to participate in the webinars. You can register here.


Nebraska Cattlemen webinar series

To register for the webinar, click here. Questions for the speaker can be sent to


Archived webinars from the rest of the series can be viewed on the Nebraska Cattlemen website. “Cattle Industry Cyclical and Infrastructure Overview” can be viewed here; “Direct Conversations with the Packing Industry” can be viewed here; and “Packer Consolidation: Are They Breaking the Law?” can be viewed here.


FAQ: What do I need to know about buying beef from a rancher?

Tri-State Livestock News (TSLN) published a helpful article for those considering direct purchases of beef from producers. TSLN answers questions about hanging weight, edible product, freezer space requirements, processing costs and related topics. That article can be viewed here.


NDSU Extension published a similar article, which can be found here.


The North Dakota Department of Agriculture published an updated, interactive map identifying local food sources, including those for beef. The map can be viewed here.


Grilling season: NOT cancelled

Progressive Grocer is reporting that grilling season is not cancelled: “All senses aren’t equal when it comes to cooking, at least not when it comes to grilling. There’s something almost, well, primal about getting a whiff of food sizzling on an outdoor grill. From the first ancestral foods seared with fire, people have had a strong connection with this particular method of cooking. No less a revered culinary figure than James Beard waxed poetic about the thrill of the grill among those who make and eat such fare: ‘Grilling, broiling, barbecuing — whatever you want to call it — is an art, not just a matter of building a pyre and throwing on a piece of meat as a sacrifice to the gods of the stomach.’” 


Carne asada street tacos: perfect for Cinco de Mayo 

Mom’s Dish and the beef checkoff paired up to highlight an authentic Mexican dish, a perfect choice for Cinco de Mayo Day. To get the recipe, visit here.


Mental health resources

The coronavirus situation and a culmination of other factors have made this a stressful time for many farm and ranch families across North Dakota. Know that you are not alone. If you need someone to talk to, call a friend or a neighbor, our office or 211, a statewide 24-hour crisis intervention, health and human services information and referral line.