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Posted 09/24/2022

For immediate release: 
Sept. 24, 2022
For more information, contact:

Jason Leiseth, NDSA president: (701) 586-3714 •

Julie Ellingson, NDSA executive vice president: (701) 223-2522 •

Elizabeth Neshem, NDSA communications director: (701) 223-2522 •


Bateman, Helbling and Schafer recognized as 

North Dakota Stockmen’s Association honorary members


The North Dakota Stockmen’s Association (NDSA) recognized long-time association members Nancy Jo Bateman of New Salem, N.D., Fred Helbling of Mandan, N.D., and Jeff Schafer of New Rockford, N.D., with Honorary Membership Awards at a special awards banquet during its annual convention in Bismarck, N.D., tonight. 


Nancy Jo Bateman

Nancy Jo Bateman is often referred to as “the beef lady.” After more than 38 years as the executive director of the North Dakota Beef Commission (NDBC), she has earned that title. She is a familiar face and voice to producers and consumers alike, advocating for beef and the beef industry her entire career.


The Kindred, N.D., native grew up on a diversified operation. Bateman graduated from North Dakota State University (NDSU) with a bachelor’s degree in foods and nutrition with minors in animal science and communications before beginning her career — working for the North Dakota Dairy Promotion Commission and Dairy Council before moving into her current role at the NDBC in 1984. 


At the beginning of her career, the North Dakota Beef Checkoff had just been implemented and the industry decided to hire a staff person who could conduct beef education and promotion program, the role Bateman was tasked with. “The goal was to expand beef nutrition and health programming across the state,” explained Bateman. Over time, new goals have been added and accomplishments have been met. “One of my proudest achievements has been the more than 30 years of partnerships with the North Dakota Dietetic Association, American Heart Association, North Dakota Nutrition Council, Upper Plains Cardiac Rehab Association and several other groups,” said Bateman. “They look at the NDBC as a good source of science-based information and beef as a good source of protein and supplier of 10 essential nutrients” 


Bateman has seen changes since joining the NDBC. One of those was in 1986 when the national beef checkoff was implemented. This provided more advertising dollars, helped develop nutrition and consumer research programs and so much more,” she said.


Bateman was selected to be on the national task force, which was assigned to hire an advertising agency for the national beef checkoff. “I had the opportunity to work with some fabulous agencies that really helped put beef on the map,” she said, referring to the efforts that resulted in the popular “Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner.” campaigns. She served on the Federation of State Beef Council’s Federation Advisory Council multiple times. She has also guided the industry through many issues, such as red meat slandering, E. coli O157:H7 and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), and helped grow beef demand through consumer advertising, marketing, partnerships, public relations, education, research and new product development.


“With beef, regardless of budget, ethnic background, tastes or preferences, there is always a product that fits the consumer’s needs,” said Bateman. “We have a great story to tell and that’s not going to change, it’s just going to get better with more knowledge, more research and more creativity,” she said. “Nothing happens with one person, it’s a team effort, an industry effort.” 


In addition to her work at the NDBC, she farms and ranches near New Salem, N.D., with her husband Rocky. The couple has three daughters, Jessie (John) Bateman-Pfaff, Ashley (Kyle) Bateman-Abrahamson and Libby, and two grandchildren, Cort Pfaff and Kwincy Abrahamson. 


Bateman has given back to her community and industry over the years. She has served as a board member and president for the Miss Rodeo North Dakota Pageant Association for several years. She is also the worship team lead for music at her New Salem church. She has been recognized with various awards, including the Honorary American FFA degree from the National FFA. 


The 39-year NDSA member’s first NDSA-related memory dates back to former NDSA Executive Vice President Clair Michels’ time. “I spoke in Medora as Miss Rodeo North Dakota in the late 1970s,” she said. “Little did I know I would have such a tremendous working relationship with the NDSA, between educational events, speaking engagements and Beef Industry Military Appreciation Day. 


“I love beef, I love what I do and I love the people I work for and with,” said Bateman.


Bateman announced her upcoming retirement this month. She is considered the longest serving state beef council executive director in the United Sates. 


Fred Helbling

Mandan, N.D., cattleman Fred Helbling has been an NDSA member for 27 years.


Helbling was born and raised southwest of Mandan on his family’s Hereford operation, which was started in 1945 by his parents. Growing up, the most exciting task for Helbling was going out and checking cows. He became involved with 4-H at an early age, livestock judging and showing cattle. Helbling earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from NDSU, where he gained many friends and mentors. “I was fortunate to have met so many people that I admire and respect,” said Helbling.


Today, alongside his brothers, he continues the Hereford tradition. They run a 350-plus-head registered and commercial Hereford operation and also raise alfalfa, corn, oats and wheat. 


Helbling is proud of his time in the NDSA. His membership began back in the 1980s, after he attended the convention and Spring Roundups when they were held locally. “I knew a lot of people that were involved in the association,” said Helbling. “One day, Steve Brooks asked if I was a member. That’s when I realized my dad’s membership didn’t include one for me, a common misconception, and I became a member.”


Helbling believes people must be involved and give back to the industry that is their livelihood. “That’s how you work together to move the industry and the association forward,” he said. Helbling served as a District 4 director for 10 years, which included a special term to fill the unexpired term of Jack Reich when he was elected vice president. Helbling served on the NDSA Budget Committee, Seedstock Council, Nominating Committee and Brand and Theft Committee. He planned and attended District 4 Spring Roundups and has attended the Beyond the Bunk Conference, Beef Industry Military Appreciation Day and the annual convention. Helbling has judged the North Dakota Junior Beef Expo showmanship contest and has participated in the All Breeds Cattle Tour four times, something he and his family are very proud of. He is currently serving on the NDSA’s Building Committee.


He is a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and American Hereford Association. He has also served as a North Dakota Hereford Association director and is a member of the Knights of Columbus. In addition, Helbling was appointed to the North Dakota Ag Coalition as a livestock representative. He went on to become the vice chairman, the chairman and then an ex-officio member. Today, along with his role as the NDBC secretary-treasurer, he serves as the NDBC Ag Coalition liaison. 


Helbling and his wife Pam have two children, Danielle and Anne, seven grandchildren and a couple great-grandchildren. 


Jeff Schafer

New Rockford, N.D., rancher and NDSA President Jeff Schafer has been an NDSA member for 33 years. 


Schafer earned a bachelor’s degree in animal science from NDSU. Following the opportunity to grow, learn and network, Schafer returned to his family’s operation in Eddy County. 


He represents the fifth generation of Rhein Valley Farm. Three of those generations are currently operating the diversified farm and ranch. “My initial passion comes from being born and raised here,” said Schafer, “but, when the other generations share the same goals and vision, that’s rewarding and sustainability at its best.” 


Today, Rhein Valley Farm is comprised of a 400-head Angus cow-calf operation and a 999-head backgrounding and finishing feedlot for owned and purchased cattle. Schafers raise corn, soybeans, pinto beans and seed oats. They also use cover crops and residue grazing for their cattle enterprises. In addition, he and his wife Leann are full-service Purina dealers with bulk and bag products and a feed mill. 


“When I can do everyday tasks with multiple generations by my side, it’s not work, it’s a reward,” said Schafer. He is especially proud of the generations that have paved the way and those that will succeed him. “Curveballs come, but we persevere, work hard and never quit,” he said. With the mentorship of his parents, Schafer’s goal has been to lead by example, just as they have 


Before accepting the NDSA’s top post, Schafer served on the NDSA Board of Directors as a District 1 director, the NDSA Budget Committee, the NDSA Resolutions Committee, the NDSA Brand Board, where he was the chairman, and the NDSA Research & Education Committee, where he was vice chairman. Schafer has also participated in the Young Cattlemen’s Legislative Conference, Beyond the Bunk Workshop, Beef Industry Military Appreciation Day and the Healthcare Heroes Appreciation Day. He has hosted and attended the Spring Roundups and the Feedlot Tour, attended the All Breeds Cattle Tour and spoke at the Tomorrow’s Top Hands Beef Leadership Summit. “The future is bright,” said Schafer. “The NDSA focuses on the youth as much as they do the adult membership, and the passion that is coming up in the next generation is just as great as ours and we need to continue to foster and grow it.”


“Schafer is recognized as an enthusiastic volunteer and has taken extra steps to grow the NDSA’s membership base and promote its services to producers. He is a several-time membership recruitment champion. Over his presidential term, he has helped the industry navigate many challenges, including a historic drought in 2021 and back-to-back record-setting blizzards in 2022. 


Schafer is a past president of the Wells County 4-H Council and the St. Joseph and St. John Church Parish Councils. He is also a past New Rockford Economic Development board member. 


He and his wife Leann have three adult children, Chelsey (Kyle) Erdmann, Colten and Corey, and three grandchildren, Kade, Karsyn and Kooper. 



Photos available upon request.