At 18 years of age, Austin Wippel owns a fleet of equipment and successfully runs his own hay, straw, and custom baling business, which is no small feat in today’s industry and economy. His dedication and business success has paid off as he was named Ohio’s 85th Star State Farmer at the 2013 State FFA Convention.
“It’s great to see all my hard work pay off! I put a lot of time into the application and four years into my business to get to this point. It’s been very rewarding. I am happy to represent Ohio FFA and this year’s State Degrees,” Wippel said.
When a neighbor raising racehorses needed straw, Austin seized the opportunity to bale the straw his family normally left on the ground after their wheat harvest. His entrepreneurship started back in 2009 when he used the profits from his 4-H market steers to buy his first baler. He baled about 30 acres that year and has since added acreage each year to reach the 300 acres of straw and hay he currently rents and bales. Each year’s profits are used to grow equipment inventory and client base.
As a graduating senior from Westfall High School, Austin currently owns a New Holland baler, 120-horse power John Deere tractor, disk, rake, and a stack wagon with a grapple system.
“Its great to be able to do this on my own. I am taking the responsibility to support the business with my own money,” Wippel said. “I am taking the risk out on my own name and listing items under my capital items, which isn’t something most can do at my age.”
While others in his area are producing more big bales, he will continue to sell small square bales to meet customer demand. He has pure alfalfa and an alfalfa timothy mix to meet his customers’ demands based upon their specific protein needs. Last year’s drought left him out of hay by December, but he is confident of the alfalfa’s growth and the quality of the hay crop coming into this year.
“I have had a passion for agriculture from growing up on a farm. Since the age of 10, I knew this is what I wanted to do. There are so many opportunities in agriculture and so much room to expand to find what you want to do,” Wippel said. “I love to do anything outside that has to deal with a tractor and working with my hands, however, I still enjoy the business part. It is still a business and there is a lot of other stuff to do besides driving a tractor to have a successful farming operation.”
Wippel is an active four-year member of the Westfall FFA Chapter, where he is the chapter’s sentinel and participated in everything from soil judging, agronomy contests, and fundraising. He is also involved at the Trinity Lutheran Church.
Austin will be attending Ohio State’s Agricultural Technology Institute (ATI) this fall, majoring in crop management. He will continue his hay and straw entrepreneurship and hopes to get into more row crops in the future.