Livestock and Ag Auctions Must Continue Amid COVID-19

With calving season upon us, many ranchers need to move and sell other cattle due to limited feed supplies and to make room for new calves.  Others are planning auction sales for land or equipment due to financial situations or leaving the business.

“Agriculture doesn’t stop; the process of producing food and feed is a year-round job,” North Dakota Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said.  “Agriculture provides critical and essential functions for all Americans.  We recognize this and understand that livestock markets and ag auction sales still need to happen.  There are currently over 100 ag auction sales scheduled for the next two months.  We understand the need but ask that certain precautions are taken to mitigate the risk.”

The CDC recommends considering a number of factors when determining whether to postpone or cancel a mass gathering, including:

  • The overall number of attendees;
  • The number of people attending who are at a greater risk of more serious illness;
  • The density of attendees within a confined area;
  • The potential economic impact to participants, attendees, staff, and the larger community; and
  • The level of transmission in your local community and the level of transmission in the areas from which your attendees will travel.

Taking these factors into consideration, livestock auction markets and ag auctions can take certain precautions to limit contact between people.  Many auction companies and livestock markets are limiting attendance to only bidders and buyers.  Where possible, they will offer online bidding and viewing of the sale.  People are encouraged to limit contact and maintain distance between those attending auctions.

“A positive is that most ag auction sales happen outside, and many livestock auction markets offer an option to view the sale remotely.  With a few adjustments, auctions can continue with the essential role they play in agriculture,” Goehring said.  “We strongly urge those not feeling well, non-essential and at-risk people to avoid auctions.  If your attendance is essential, respect social distancing and practice good hygiene.”


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