2024 Young Cooperator of the Year

The Young Cooperator of the Year award is announced at our annual Winter Conference each year. This award is given out to a couple or individual who exhibit a strong passion for the dairy industry. They are actively involved on their farm, in dairy and other agriculture related organizations, and in their local community.

Alex and Kirsten Udermann with First District Association’s, Patti Schaefer.

This year’s 2024 Young Cooperator of the Year award was presented to Alex and Kirsten Udermann of Sartell, MN.

The Udermann farm has been in the family since 1916. Alex and Kirsten, along with Alex’s brother Jake, are the fifth generation on the farm. They also still work alongside their father, John, every day. The Udermanns milk 80 cows, raise their own youngstock and steers, grow their own crops, and custom haul manure. They also sell their own beef to the public, which has created a positive niche market for them.

An aspect of the farm Alex takes great pride in are his conservation practices. Recently, the farm has implemented cover crops and has switched to 100% no-till. The farm is enrolled in the USDA’s Conservation Stewardship Program, the ESMC Program, which is a study pilot program for farmers who are newly adapting no till and cover crops to study and research positive changes in soil health, and are a part of the Minnesota Agricultural Water Quality Certification Program. A goal the Udermanns are focusing on is composting manure, and to make a compost extract to use as an in-row fertilizer and increase fungi in the soil biology. Alex is a firm believer that healthier soil equals healthier plants, which equals healthier livestock. Alex states, “You can’t have livestock without soil. It’s kind of a full circle, we create a healthy soil, harvest a healthy crop, feed that to our livestock and it’s just a nice balanced equation.”

The Udermann family

Alex and Kirsten say they are very fortunate to raise their three daughters on the family dairy farm. They enjoy seeing their smiles when they play on the bales or walking the feed lanes petting the cows. Alex and Kirsten are currently serving on the Young Cooperators Board with First District Association, volunteer at their county fair’s malt stand, and have hosted numerous farm tours to groups showcasing their operation.

The Udermanns are constantly striving to always doing the right thing on their farm while ensuring it stays sustainable from an environmental and financial standpoint. The focus is to keep the farm progressing towards the future and allowing the opportunity for their girls to farm one day.

The National Young Cooperators (YC) Program provides up-and-coming leaders in the dairy industry with a better understanding of issues facing farmers and cooperatives. The program, managed by the National Milk Producers Federation, provides year-round educational opportunities to inform and build leadership abilities in the next generation of dairy farmers.

Here at First District Association, our Young Cooperator Board consists of couples and individuals under the age of 45. This group meets and plans various events throughout the year including a Bingo Night where food shelf donations are taken to give to the Melrose Area Food Shelf, a summer picnic hosted at one of our member-owners farms and have the opportunity to attend National Young Cooperator events.

Congratulations Alex and Kirsten!