April 29, 2020 Dear NCBA Stakeholder,
There will be parts of this period in our history that will stay with us for a very long time and today was one of those days for me. I’m proud to call myself a cattleman and I’m proud to represent this industry and NCBA as president of the association. The work we do is crucial to the industry and it’s making a difference, which was on full display today as I had the honor to participate in two conference calls with the White House. The first call was with President Trump and it allowed me the opportunity to thank him directly for yesterday’s Executive Order which will keep packing plants open while also protecting the workers in those plants. Because of the work NCBA is doing and the relationship we have built with the Administration, President Trump has a very clear understanding of the importance of keeping packing plants open and moving through the system. The NCBA team has been in regular contact with the White House, USDA and many other government agencies throughout the crisis to make certain the interests of NCBA members are being well represented daily and sometimes hourly every single day. Following the call with President Trump, I had another opportunity to represent cattle producers with a second White House call hosted by Vice President Mike Pence, which also included Ag Secretary Sonny Perdue, 18 governors, seven state directors of agriculture, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Labor, Senators Pat Roberts, R-KS, Senator Debbie Stabenow, D-MI, Congressman Collin Peterson, D-MN, and Congressman Mike Conaway, R-TX, and again had the honor of being recognized by Vice President Pence to open the call with an update about impacts of this crisis on the cattle industry. It’s truly humbling to serve cattle producers at moments such as these and today’s honor won’t ever fade from my memory. I thank each NCBA member for the opportunity to serve your interests. As you know, this has already been an eventful week and it’s only half finished. However, we’ve accomplished a great deal to help cattle producers begin the long process of recovery. The first step in that process was getting plants back online, some of which have been closed for an extended period which has hurt cattle prices and created backlogs of cattle which will present challenges to production and price for months to come. President Trump heard repeatedly from NCBA both directly and through countless media interviews and responded with action in the form of an Executive Order which reopens plants and also provides federal assistance with protective equipment to keep workers safe while on the job. We’re very appreciative of President Trump’s assistance in helping to open the pipeline. We’re not going to see plants return to full operation for some time, but this was an important step forward. I want to address a couple of rumors that have surfaced since the Executive Order was issued, the first concern was that the Defense Production Act would give the packers the right to cancel cattle they had already contracted. That is NOT true. Packers cannot back out of purchase commitments they have already made. Another rumor was that the Defense Production Act would prevent the export of any meat products. This is also NOT true. There are no restrictions on exporting our product. In fact, the President told us to keep up our exports in order to take advantage of all the new and improved trade deals he has delivered for us. As a reminder, you can find many resources on our website NCBA.org. There you will find additional resources on the items listed below. As always, if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to call any NCBA officer or staff member. We’re here to serve you.
SBA Relief Programs - The Small Business Administration continues to implement the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Attached is the most updated FAQ on the PPP. They are still working on the new EIDL application process to include agriculture. We will get that guidance to you as soon as it is complete. If you are interested in that program, we are attaching the current EIDL handout. We expect the new document (that includes agriculture) to look much different, but this will allow you to get a feeling for how the program works. Restaurants Reopening – The restaurant industry continues to adjust (Source: The NPD Group/CREST® Performance Alerts) Industry disruption only affected the second half of March, yet the industry landscape already shows some dramatic shifts. Traffic for the month is down 22% versus one year ago, and as expected, independent restaurants (1-2 unit operators) have suffered slightly more than others. Digital ordering has grown in the high double-digits and now accounts for almost 13% of restaurant orders. Capacity for delivery has expanded considerably. In February, before the crisis, delivery was less than 4% of restaurant orders. In March, delivery increased to 7%. (compiled by NCBA’s checkoff-funded market research team) Cattle Wellbeing - The issue of cattle euthanasia continues to be a media topic, and this should concern every member of the cattle industry, because consumers don’t understand this conversation and it there is every likelihood that ongoing conversations about the topic have the potential to turn consumers away from beef, something we cannot afford right now. The simple facts are: a. We don’t utilize euthanasia as a supply management tool. b. We aren’t euthanizing cattle during this crisis. c. We care for the health and welfare of our animals and are doing everything we need to keep them safe, healthy, and well-fed. Sincerely, Marty Smith NCBA President