Young Cooperator Program

2014 Outstanding Young Cooperator Contest Winners

Brock and Nelda Bailey, Tomah, Wis.

Swiss Valley Farms YC’ers posed around the co-op cheese award table at the cheese reception at the Dairy Summit. From left to right are: Chris and Emily Frieders, Chris Hoeger, Swiss Valley V.P. of Procurement, Nelda and Brock Bailey.

Brock and Nelda Bailey of Tomah, Wis. are the 2014 Swiss Valley Farms Outstanding Young Cooperator Contest. The Bailey's dairy with Brock's parents, Michael and Jean Bailey, and his brother Brent. The family milks 120 Holsteins. Nelda is an ag teacher and FFA advisor at Tomah High School. The couple has three young daughters: Josie, Teagan and Blair.

Brock and Nelda will be representing Swiss Valley Farms on the 2015 National Young Cooperator YC Council in Washington D.C. in June. They will work with other couples from across the country to plan the YC program for the 2015 NMPF Dairy Summit. The Baileys, along with Chris and Emily Frieders of Janesville, Wis., represented Swiss Valley Farms in October at the NMPF Dairy Summit in Dallas, Texas.

Annual 2-Day YC Conference Held February 28 - March 1 in Dubuque, Iowa

Pat Schroeder of S & S Farms in Lancaster, Wis. visits with the young cooperators in his newly constructed free stall barn.

While participating in the Murder Mystery Dinner Theater, YC'ers were encouraged to dress up in 1930's outfits. From left, they are: Chris Frieders & Emily Parker, Brent & Julie Koopmann, Birdsie Robinson, Lynn & Dan Bolin, Jonathan & Liz Gerdes with Chloe, and Sarah Gerdes.

White Hill cheese maker Jim Klein, left, takes a group of YC’ers on a tour of the Shullsburg, Wis. cheese plant.

Dr. Kevin Bernhardt of UW-Platteville, conducted a workshop on how to get the most out of your financial records.

YC'ers boarded a bus Feb. 28th and kicked off their two-day YC Spring Break conference, held this year in Dubuque, Iowa. The conference began with a tour of the White Hill Cheese plant in Shullsburg, Wis. This is the cheese plant and warehouse that Swiss Valley Farms owns and is the co-op's contribution to the joint venture with Emmi Roth Kase. Small wheels of Baby Swiss are made here and Swiss Valley supplies all of the milk to the plant. After that tour, YC'ers travelled to S & S Farms in Lancaster, Wis. where they were greeted by Patrick and Karen Schroeder and their son Patrick Jr. who run S & S Farms. The Schroeder’s recently completed an extensive building project.

On Saturday, YC'ers got down to business indoors with a day filled with informative speakers. Carrie Mess from Watertown, Wis., is better known by her internet blog name of 'Dairy Carrie.' She told the YC'ers how her blog gained momentum on the internet and how advocating for agriculture is an important task for every dairy producer.

A workshop on Financial Benchmarking was presented by Dr. Kevin Bernhardt, a Professor of Agribusiness at UW-Platteville, UW-Extension Farm Management Specialist. Dr. Bernhardt explained why it is important to spend time keeping good records and analyzing them. "It will improve your profitability and decision making. It will show you where you are spending your valuable management time. Where are your financial bottlenecks? What do you need to change to improve your bottom line?"

Swiss Valley Farms CEO Don Boelens presented an update on the co-op's exporting success. Craig Grothe, motivational speaker and farmer humorist from Crawfordsville, Iowa, wrapped up the conference with a talk on how to communicate with the older generation on the farm.

Who is a Swiss Valley Farms YC'er?

Swiss Valley Farms members from 18 through 45 years old are Young Cooperators and are eligible to attend this two-day YC Spring Break. At this conference, equal time is devoted to educational seminars as well as fun and entertainment. Swiss Valley Farms brings in top notch speakers to address the YC'ers on a wide range of issues that affect their lives and their dairy operations. YC'ers from across the Swiss Valley Farms four-state area can relax and meet fellow co-op members, and discover common ground for interesting discussion.

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