Shooting for the Stars-Jeremy Weichel Aims for Star Farmer of America HonorFri, 26 Oct 2012 14:12:09 CDT
Jeremy Weichel of Cordell is a fifth generation farmer with his sights set high. He has known for years that he wants to continue the familyís farming legacy, but he is also one of four finalists hoping to be named a 2012 American Star Farmer in the National FFA Organization in Indianapolis this week.
Weichel spoke to Radio Oklahoma Network Farm Director Ron Hays at the FFA convention. You can hear that conversation by clicking on the LISTEN BAR at the bottom of this story.
Weichel started his cattle and wheat operation by purchasing 80 acres near Cordell and running stocker cattle. The 22-year-old now owns 160 acres and rents 160 more. Like other farmers in western Oklahoma, Weichel has weathered the drought of the last two years and carry his operation forward.
ďItís been pretty difficult, but Iíve been able to use my crop insurance and things like that and stay afloat.Ē
Weichel purchases 500-pound steers and sells them at about 750 pounds. The steers graze on grassland or wheat pasture, depending on the time of year. Grazing cattle allows him to make productive use of his land without compromising the quality of his crops. Weichel also has worked at the Oklahoma State University Wheat Pasture Research Stations, and he plans to apply his experience to his own farm. The Weichel family has been farming and raising cattle in western Oklahoma for more than 100 years.
While other ranchers havenít had much wheat pasture the last couple of years, Weichel said he has been fortunate to receive early rains the last couple of years and pasture his calves.
ďWeíve had some early rains at the beginning of our wheat crop and the past few years Iíve been able to graze calves pretty well. Itís more towards the end of the wheat crop that things start going wrong and so itís been hard to actually make the wheat crop. But my grazing has been good the last couple of years.Ē
Weichel says his immediate future entails returning to the farm as his father and grandfather prepare to turn more of the day to day operations over to him. He says he believes the integrated cattle and wheat operation they have developed will continue long into the future.
ďIn my area, and the climate we have in that area, the wheat and cattle and grass really complement each other very well and so it works for me. I think it will work in the future, too.Ē
Weichel says he is planning to expand his stocker operation to include a cow-calf enterprise as he amasses more capital in the future.
The American Star Farmer awards honor students who have developed outstanding agricultural skills and competencies through their supervised agricultural experience; demonstrated outstanding management skills; earned the American FFA Degree - the organizationís highest level of accomplishment; and met other agricultural education, scholastic and leadership requirements. Each finalist is interviewed by a panel of judges and one winner in each of four categories will be announced in an onstage ceremony. Each winner and will receive a plaque and an award of $4,000. The runners-up will also receive a plaque and $2,000 each.
Weichel is a senior at Oklahoma State University, where he is studying animal science. He was a member of Cordell FFA in Oklahoma. His advisor was Brian Dowdle. Weichel was valedictorian of his high school class. He is the son of Keith and Lana Weichel.
Weichel says his experience in Indianapolis, so far, has been very good. He says he was able to explain his operation and successes to the judges in a way that they understood.
ďThis whole deal has been a real good experience. Itís kind of icing on the cake. Iíve been growing my operation for the last seven years and itís kind of neat to come up here and be recognized for it.Ē
Our exclusive coverage from the 2012 National FFA Convention in Indianapolis is a service of the Oklahoma FFA Association and the Oklahoma FFA Alumni Association. Click here for more information about this youth organization. FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success through agricultural education.
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