Cattlemen at Capitol

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and cattlemen Dave Wulf grilling steaks at the Capitol building.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Just ahead of May Beef Month, cattlemen from across the state celebrated beef with Minnesota’s legislators and their staff. On April 23, they set up grills in front of the Capitol building and prepared steaks on a stick for all the legislators.

“We called it Beef Day at the Capitol, it was a little bit different than what our typical cattleman at the capital event,” said Ashley Kohls, executive director of Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association, during a phone interview after the event. “We picked a spot on the grass right at the base of the steps of the capitol and served steak on a stick to anybody who’s in the House or the Senate and any of their staff.”

Normally, when the cattlemen converge on the capitol building, they are seeking out meetings with the representatives to discuss policy and upcoming bills. It is not always easy to secure those meetings with the limited time they have on the hill.

“We got to talk to more metro legislators in those two hours then we have the past four years of me being on staff,” said Kohls. “It was a really neat way to be able to connect with people who wouldn't maybe normally give us a meeting if we were there for a day on the hill.”

It seemed like everything was working in favor of the cattlemen that day. The weather was beautiful with the sun shining, warm temperatures and a light breeze in exactly the right direction at the right time.

“The small breeze that happened at right around noon was blowing the smell of the grill right into the Capitol building,” she said. “You could hear more and more people buzzing about it and making their way out.”

There was close to 50 cattlemen at the event from 23 different regional associations from across the state. The west-central cattlemen from the Morris area and the Cottonwood cattle producers provided the gas grills.

By the end of the day, 550 steaks on a stick were given out as well as 125 burgers that were brought as back up should the steaks run out.

The real benefit was that the legislators stuck around to talk, eat and even grill.

“It was really fun for them to throw on an apron and grill right next to our cattlemen,” she said. “The Metro legislators were asking them a lot of questions about their farm – ‘Tell me about your farm and how you raise cattle and why you raise cattle.’”

Other conversation topics centered around that status of farming right now. They also discussed the spending bill that was on the House floor that day, more specifically section 179 and tax conformity with the federal tax code.

Many of the representatives that attended the event were well known to the Association, but there were a lot that they had never had the opportunity to meet before. When they saw people with the pin designating them as a representative, they were sure to introduce themselves though.

“We couldn't have scripted it any better than how it just kind of organically happened for us with these folks,” said Kohls. “We had a number of cattlemen behind the grill, but we also had other cattlemen just kind of scattered throughout the grassy area looking for that little pin, going up and introducing themselves.”

All in all, the event was an overwhelming success, bound to become an annual event at the Capitol.

“We are excited to do it again,” she said. “I don't think it is an option to not do it after the huge success that it was.”