Aug. 19, 2019
Dear North Dakota Stockmen’s Association member:
As you know, a fire at the Tyson beef processing plant in Holcomb, Kan., on Aug. 9 has shut down the facility
and sent ripples throughout the industry. The 6,000-head-per-day processing plant represented
approximately 6 percent of the nation’s total beef processing capacity. That means many cattle will be
displaced to other markets for what, at best, could be a matter of months and there is increased uncertainty in
the market, as evidenced by the limit-down drop in both the live cattle and feeder cattle futures last week.
The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association is cognizant of the situation and has been working to do what it can
to minimize the impact of this disaster and look out for your interests.
Here’s what we know:
• The situation has and likely will continue to result in volatility in both cattle and beef markets. The
Livestock Marketing Information Center published a report on Aug. 12 that examines the impact of the fire
and provides some insight into the factors contributing to the volatility. The analysis by Colorado State
University Agricultural Economist Dr. Stephen Koontz can be found at http://lmic.info/publications/in-thecattle-
markets or on the NDSA’s website, www.ndstockmen.org.
• Tyson is committed to reopening the plant, although the timeline is still uncertain. Here is a news report
that explains more about the damage and the projected rebuilding:
Here’s what the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association has done so far:
• Sent a letter to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission urging its enhanced monitoring of the cattle
market to guard against any market participant who tries to manipulate the market and illegally capitalize on
this situation. Here’s a copy of our letter: http://www.ndstockmen.org/image/cache/CFTC_letter_8-16.pdf
• Sent a letter to the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration asking for an hours-of-service waiver for
livestock haulers to help facilitate the longer hauls that will be necessary as cattle move to alternative,
farther-away markets while the Holcomb plant is closed. Here’s a copy of our letter:
• Sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue asking that USDA inspectors and graders be made
available for longer shifts and extended work weeks to accommodate the volume increase at other markets
and that the Packers and Stockyards Division remain vigilant against any effort to illegally capitalize on the
market situation. Here’s a copy of our letter: http://www.ndstockmen.org/image/cache/USDA_letter_8-
• Briefed North Dakota’s Congressional delegation, the governor’s office, House and Senate Agriculture
Committee chairmen and the Department of Agriculture on the situation.
• Scheduled Troy Applehans, a market analyst from CattleFax, to address members at the NDSA Annual
Convention & Trade Show, “This is Stockmen’s Country,” during the opening session on Friday, Sept. 20, at the
Grand Hotel in Minot to give more insight into the cattle market and the factors affecting it.
North Dakota Stockmen’s Association staff and leaders will continue to monitor this situation. As always, feel
free to reach out to any of us with questions or concerns. Our office number is (701) 223-2522.