MSCA Members, Beef Producers, and Beef Industry Stakeholders:
Over the past few weeks and especially recent days, the beef industry has suffered greatly due to the impacts of COVID-19. Things are moving at a rapid pace and the Minnesota Beef Council (MBC), Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association (MSCA) and National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) are working diligently to address issues as they arise and attempt to anticipate long term ramifications of the current situation. These organizations are committed to beef producers in Minnesota and finding solutions to the current situation while also keeping a focus on the long-term viability of the industry.
Below is a list of things that these organization have been working on in recent days/hours. Please know this list is rapidly changing.
MSCA has sent a letter to all of the Minnesota members of the U.S. Congress and Senate, sharing with them concerns over the market volatility and COVID-19 concerns, as it relates to hours of operation, the need for FSIS inspectors in packing plants, and support for Minnesota beef farmers, ranchers and livestock markets.
We have had several meetings with state and national leaders discussing what work should be deemed ‘essential’ and how the crisis is being felt on farms and in rural parts of our state. Our team is having ongoing discussions with members of the supply chain, to better understand barriers that may exist in sourcing beef products and reassuring consumers that beef will be available as soon as deliveries can be made. NCBA, along with MSCA, are working on crafting a relief package for beef farmers and ranchers. The United States and Canada decided to close the border between our two countries to non-essential travelers. We have been told that this will not impact trade, but NCBA continues to work with the White House to keep trade flowing. We expect a similar decision will be made regarding the Mexican border.
The Department of Transportation issued an emergency declaration today waiving Hours of Service regulations for all hauling of livestock from March 13th-April 12th. No documentation in the truck is needed. Furthering this waiver will be determined in the coming days. We continue to work on a waiver for truck weights as well.
NCBA hosted a virtual press conference on Wednesday, March 18 with over 300 reporters. Media interviews are focused on the need to protect the financial stability of producers, keeping USDA inspectors and graders in packing plants, and reassuring the public that there is not a beef shortage.
NCBA is in daily contact with USDA to ensure their commitment to keeping USDA graders and inspectors in packing plants. They are not wavering on their commitment and are developing contingencies for worst-case scenarios.
NCBA staff spoke to CME Group staff to ensure they would not make any contract changes during this crisis that could make the market situation worse.
Regular communication with the major packing plants is ongoing to ensure they remain open and processing cattle. All of the major packers have contingencies in place to handle staffing emergencies.
The MN Beef Council is focusing additional advertising and marketing efforts toward families preparing easy, nutritious meals at home. This includes social media recipe sharing and ad buys on digital platforms where streaming is being utilized.
Both the MBC/MSCA offices remain open with limited staffing. All staff will continue to provide service when working from home and when working in the office.NCBA’s Denver and D.C. offices remain open as we continue to work on protecting our industry in this crisis situation.
We need to hear from you as well. If you know of things happening in the industry that you do not think are being addressed, please let us know. A web page https://www.ncba.org/coronavirus.aspx has been created to help you stay up to date on what the beef industry is doing during this crisis. Please let us know what we can do to help!
CEO Minnesota Beef Council
Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association
Email: [email protected]
Posted: March 19, 2020