Mike Landuyt really enjoys his job.
“I just love being around cattle,” said Landuyt, who lives north of Walnut Grove.
Yet, for Landuyt, life did not start out working with beef.
Growing up, the Landuyt farming operation included hogs. Yet, for Landuyt there was always something that drew him to cattle. Landuyt said one of his neighbors had a 300-head cattle operation, and as he grew up he was able to do chores for them when they were away.
“I guess that is where I caught the bug,” he said, adding it got in his blood and grew from there.
After graduating from Westbrook-Walnut Grove High School and earning a degree from South Dakota State University, Landuyt returned to Redwood County and started his own herd.
Now Landuyt Farms has 725 head of cattle and raises corn and soybeans. That, agreed Landuyt, is enough to keep anyone busy.
However, Landuyt knew there was more he could do for the industry, and so he got involved as an advocate for beef. As his experience and exposure grew, Landuyt began taking on greater leadership roles. That all culminated for him this past December when Landuyt was elected to serve as the president of the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association.
So, what does that mean?
In addition to leading quarterly meetings of the association’s executive board, Landuyt said as president he spends time attending local association meetings to work with beef producers and to hear about the issues that are concerns for them.
Landuyt said those who serve in leadership at the state level also stay in close contact with legislators at the state and federal level to ensure they know the issues that are facing the beef industry.
Most recently, Landuyt said the cattlemen’s association was involved in getting the Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices opened during the government shutdown to help farmers who were facing financial challenges because they could not get what they needed from FSA.
Landuyt said he never would have imagined being in the role as state president, adding he was encouraged a few years ago to get more involved by fellow beef producers.
Since getting involved at the state level, Landuyt has served in various capacities from feeder council chair to vice-president. For Landuyt, getting involved in leadership was his way of serving as an advocate for the beef industry, adding he felt he needed to get involved and not expect someone else was going to do it.
In his role as president, Landuyt will serve a two-year term, and he said he knows that will keep him very busy. Thankfully, he added, there are people at home who can help fill in when he needs to be at a meeting or in St. Paul or Washington, D.C. advocating for beef.
“The cattle still need to get fed every day,” said Landuyt, adding he can serve in this role because he can trust others to do the tasks at home. He realizes others may not have that luxury.
For Landuyt, the role of president means working with others in leadership, and he said the current executive board is made up of very good people who all are very dedicated to the industry.
As an advocate, Landuyt said one of his primary roles is telling his own story about being a beef producer, whether that be with a legislator at the capitol or with the public at events where the association has a presence.
In addition to serving as state president, Landuyt is also currently representing beef producers in the five-state region at the national level as a committee member.
Whether it is addressing the issues of wolves for northern Minnesota producers or talking about buffers, Landuyt recognizes he needs to know the information so that he can talk about those issues and the impact they have on producers.
While Landuyt is serving the beef industry as its state president, he said that often means working together with other associations, such as the pork and poultry industry, as well as those who represent crop commodities.
After all, he added, many of the people in the cattlemen’s association also raise crops, and what happens in those industries has an impact on them.
In the end, Landuyt said beef producers want a level playing field, and they want to be able to do what they love without being hampered by external challenges.
Farmers, said Landuyt, focus on doing what is best for their operations, which means being good stewards of the land and taking good care of their animals. That only makes sense, because it is their livelihood, he said.
The Landuyt operation has been recognized for its environmental efforts on the land, and Mike Landuyt said that stewardship is very important to him and his family.
Serving as president for the Minnesota State Cattlemen’s Association is an honor, said Landuyt, and it is an opportunity for him to work with other leaders to make sure the right messages about the beef industry are clearly shared with the public.
Landuyt is also very community minded serving in various capacities, including being a member of the Walnut Grove Fire Department.
To learn more about the beef industry in Minnesota, visit www.mnsca.org.