This year’s Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association field day brought elected officials to Weyauwega.
Cows to Curds to Consumers was the name of the event, which was held Wednesday, Aug. 18.
John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association in Madison, said such events have been held for the last three years as a way to get people back into cheese factories and farms.
“We want people who make decisions in the state to see what the dairy industry is today,” he said.
The field day included tours at Trega Foods, Taylor Cheese and Quantum Dairy.
Mike Sipple is the vice president of technical services at Trega Foods, and was born and raised on a dairy farm in western Wisconsin.
Trega Foods receives milk from more than 500 local milk producers and has four Wisconsin Master Cheesemakers, he said.
The company’s mission is to consistently produce quality products, Sipple said.
The tour at Trega Foods was followed by a tour at Taylor Cheese, a cheese packaging company that was recently remodeled.
Bob Ehrenberg is a co-owner of Taylor Cheese and also operates the business.
A member of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association board of directors, he said that the association began the tours several years ago as a way to get government officials in tune with what is going on in the industry.
In speaking to Umhoefer, Ehrenberg suggested that this year’s tour be in Weyauwega, allowing those who attended to see cheese making, cheese packing and a dairy farm.
“The whole idea is to get the word out so they can actually see what goes on,” he said.
And, with a remodeling project just completed at Taylor Cheese, it was a way to show local and state officials the result of that work.
The feedback he and his employees received was that those who were on the tour were impressed with the work flow at the cheese packaging company, he said.
Following the tour at Taylor Cheese, the field day concluded with lunch and a tour at Quantum Dairy, which is owned by Richard Wagner and Kurt Duxbury. It is a 1,400-acre crop and dairy farm, and recently completed a seven-year expansion process – going from 500 cows to 2,100 cows.
The farm features such things as an anaerobic manure digester, hybrid manure solids and sand bedding system, a new feed center and a new calf raising facility.