In the beginning, Michigan dairy farmer Gregg Trierweiler viewed Dairy Farmers of America’s Young Cooperator (YC) program as a way to get off the farm and relax. However, the more he learned about the program, the greater his appreciation grew.
“At first it was about getting away and socializing with other people our age, but as I become more involved and understood more, now I enjoy learning about how the co-op operates and what it is doing to benefit its members,” says Trierweiler, co-owner of K&K Dairy in Westphalia, Mich.
Trierweiler and his wife, Kristin, along with the original K&K Dairy owner’s son and daughter-in-law, Matthew and Kristi Keilen, milk 450 cows and operate on nearly 1,700 acres.
The YC program is tailored for Cooperative members ages 18-40 and focuses on personal and professional growth to establish future leaders for DFA and the industry.
“Before my involvement with the YC program, I didn’t know the broad arms of DFA,” Trierweiler says. “The first time I heard about DFA Farm Supplies, I thought, now here is a game changer. I had no idea about all the help the Cooperative was providing for us.”
The YC program helped Trierweiler improve milking efficiencies on the farm.
“After a meeting in 2012, our local field representative, Nathan Lippert, got in contact with Fabian Bernal of Alltech [now a manager of member services for DFA], who presented on cow comfort and its effects on animal health. As a result, he came out and did a parlor audit,” Trierweiler says.
“After this, he put together a report and with it, we tweaked our milk prepping procedure. This improved cow flow, which shaved 30 minutes off our milking time, lowered somatic cell count and saved on chemical cost by using different teat dips he suggested,” Trierweiler says.
Recently, Trierweiler was selected to represent Mideast Area YCs at the 2014 Ag Day at the Michigan state capital in Lansing.
There, he learned much more about the state’s agricultural issues.
“Since we have a hard time getting our story to consumers, why not go to lawmakers and help them write the bills that affect us on a daily basis — anything from food labeling and immigration to water rights. All three of those have the potential to affect me on a daily basis,” he says.
Trierweiler says there was a time when he thought he knew what the Cooperative did for him, but the YC program expanded on what he knew and led him to believe in the power of DFA.
“My appreciation for the YC program has grown over the years, along with my role and responsibility on the farm. Now, as an owner, I see the major need to get more YC interest,” Trierweiler says.
“The YC program gives members the tools to grow, and in return, we [young members] need to give the co-op the tools to grow.”