Looking for a Doer? Talk to a beef producer.
Grant Breitkreutz, Past President of the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association, couldn’t help but show some pride in the git-er-done attitude that permeates the beef industry.
“The beef industry is one of the best industries to be in when you're looking for support for any issue,” Breitkreutz says. “The community will come together and work on it.”
Minnesota is home to 16,000 beef producers, a surprising fact in a land where corn, soybeans and dairy dominate the ag scene. Though a typical Minnesota operation is relatively small, as a group, Minnesota cattle producers are a motivated and determined lot.
Need to feed 5,000 attendees at Farm Fest? No problem! Volunteers will show up.
Looking to demonstrate the effects of regulation to lawmakers? There’s no shortage of people raising their hands to host a hands-on, on-site visit.
As we wrap up another successful Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association Summer Tour, it was a great time to meet with Breitkreutz and share some important takeaways about the event, and how it showcases Minnesota’s thriving and essential cattle industry.
What is the Cattlemen’s Tour and how did it get started?
The Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association 2023 summer tour was hosted by the Murray and Pipestone County Cattlemen's Associations. These annual in-person tours of a different working cattle operation began in the 1970s to showcase the successes and innovations happening right here in Minnesota. Today, the tour is organized by a different local chapter each year, each working hard to make these gatherings memorable.
These events build and fortify connections with members across the state, but they also provide policymakers and consumers with an up-close look at how food gets on our table.
Over the decades, the summer tour event has expanded and adopted a festival-like atmosphere, with valuable door prizes, top-notch food and dozens of vendors. The event attracts around 700 producers, consumers and policymakers.
And it takes hundreds of volunteers to make it happen, from coordinating bus tours to organizing the five-star dinner that caps off the event.
Minnwest Bank is a proud sponsor of the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association summer tour. Colleagues from our local branches sign on to volunteer and do what we can to help the event run smoothly.
The 2023 Summer Tour drew over 600 attendees in Pipestone and Murray counties in southwest Minnesota.
Where will the 2024 summer tours be held?
For the 2024 and 2025 tours, the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association was currently finalizing dates and locations as of July 2023. One will be in northeastern Minnesota and the other in southeastern Minnesota, says Breitkreutz.
Because the MSCA represents 20 local-level cattlemen and beef groups, the location of the annual event varies from year to year. So if you’re lucky enough to have a Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association summer tour in your county next year, or sometime in the future, mark your calendar and plan on showing up. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes look at local operations that offers lots of fun and food.
What is the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association?
The MSCA represents 20 local cattlemen groups from across Minnesota, working to help its members with regulatory issues and policy matters on the state and national levels. It draws its membership from a diverse range of operations, from small cow-calf herds to larger feedlots, while the grass-finished beef sector is experiencing rapid growth.
Breitkreutz’s first experience with the organization was a defining moment for him. It was 1998, Breitkreutz and his wife and business partner, Dawn, needed a permit approved for a new cattle building they needed for their operation near Redwood Falls, but the state’s moratorium on new permits for feedlots created a barrier to what they needed in order to grow.
After a referral to the MSCA, they got the guidance they needed to overcome the regulatory hurdle to get their permit.
“They helped me find the right people so I could get my permit and get our building up in time for calving,” Breitkreutz said. “I just looked at Dawn and I said, ‘We're gonna be members for life, and try to give back to this association.’”
That anecdote demonstrates the main objective of the MSCA, to listen to its members and work with policymakers with the goal of “keeping the producers in this state in business,” Breitkreutz says.
What are the main issues facing Minnesota cattlemen?
The member organizations of the MSCA represent a diverse group of producers from different regions of the state. While the MSCA helps member producers at the individual level, these are some big-picture issues they’re actively working on:
Wolf management: Since a 2022 federal court ruling, the gray wolf is once again protected under the Endangered Species Act. Breitkreutz says restoring wolf management to state control is a pressing concern in certain regions of the state.
2023 Farm Bill: The organization is staying informed and advocating for cattlemen-friendly legislation as the bill progresses through two ag committees at the House and Senate.
Grazing rules: The group is working to lift obstacles that surfaced a few years ago during a severe drought under the Conservation Reserve Program, which provides emergency access to haying and grazing resources.
Winter manure rules: The group is working with state regulators to establish best practices that would allow producers to apply nutrients to their fields during the cold-weather months. “Obviously, none of us are here to try to pollute the environment,” Breitkreutz says. “We drink the groundwater below our feedlots. So why would we intentionally try to harm anything that we use ourselves?”
Without a doubt, the Minnesota State Cattlemen's Association represents the dedicated spirit of the state's cattle industry, which is why Minnwest Bank is a proud sponsor of their annual summer tour, held July 18, 2023. As a driving force in sustaining a thriving and essential cattle industry in Minnesota, these producers embody the doer’s spirit that inspires us. Learn more about the MSCA.
For solutions that expand your beef operation while keeping it economically viable, you can count on the expert guidance of your ag lender at Minnwest Bank. We live and work in your community, and many of our ag bankers have firsthand experience on the farm. Find an ag banker at your local Minnwest Bank and make an appointment today.